Today's match creates a big dilemma for me. Who should I root for: Portugal or Brazil?
With a last name like Silva (as common as Smith in both countries) -- and relatives in both places -- it actually is a big-time conundrum.
Soccer is a big deal in my family. My first pet, a goldfish, was named Pelé . We watched the Brazilian superstar play for the New York Cosmos in the early 1970's. My dad, Mario, would have probably named my baby brother Pelé if my mom would have let him in 1976 (he ended up with Marc Anthony instead and became a tennis pro). And, at Silva family reunions, we play football -- the European kind. And with a family of super competitive, aggressive women -- the girls play too. And yes, the females are all famous for fouling.
I saw Brazil play at the World Cup in 1994. I've never seen soccer played in such a graceful, gorgeous way, live, in person. The way they passed to each other, the way they were aware of the other in an almost unconscious way, was like watching partners dancing a samba. It was mesmerizing. Brazil also became the first team to win four World Cup Titles that year.
Courtesy of Ellen Silva
Ellen Silva runs NPR's opinion page and is a senior editor at All Things Considered.
Courtesy of Ellen Silva
So today: Who to root for? I love the captain of Portugal's team -- Cristiano Ronaldo -- with his 1970's playboy ways and his fat little Português mamãe (that's right -- go to the Vanity Fair issue where he's on the cover to catch a glimpse of his mom). I don't care if he's the highest paid football player in the world.
He deserves it.
I called my Dad, who was born in Lisbon and is currently a tennis coach in Manlius, New York (soccer is great for tennis, footwork folks!).
Who are you rooting for Dad?
"Ellen, who do you think I'm rooting for?" (That means: "How could I even ask that question?")
So, how would you feel if Brazil won?
"I'd feel bad."
And then there was a lot of ranting about the refs.
Maybe its the colonization issue, but I'm a bit more ambivalent about my allegiance. To me, Brazil is a better version of Portugal with less of the mournful fatalistic fado psychology.
As my work neighbor Shereen Meraji has been saying all morning -- Brazil is just so much better! And they do seem to be more in control of the ball this morning.
But again, who to root for? Well, maybe they'll tie...