Sunday, November 12, 2006

Brazil: World Cup Champion Again

No, this isn't hallucination or denial over the results of the World Cup in June, nor is it a prediction of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Today, Brazil defeated Uruguay 4-1 to claim the 2006 World Cup of Beach Soccer.

Now, I know many (including at least one contributor to this blog) are probably saying, "So what? It's just soccer [futebol]." Yet I suspect that, if more Americans had the chance to see it, beach soccer could become very popular in the U.S., perhaps as popular (if not moreso) than regular soccer, for several reasons, all related to speed. First, the games are much shorter, composed of 3 15-minute periods, rather than 2 45-minute halves. However, the games are still incredibly fast-paced and high-scoring, due primarily to the players and the field. The field is small enough that a goalie can throw it to the other end of the field without the ball ever touching the ground. This smaller field means much more back and forth movement, and less dribbling and waiting than in the regular "jogo bonito" (soccer/futebol/etc.). Additionally, there are only 4 players and a goalie on each team, meaning faster movement of the ball. Finally, with such a fast-paced atmosphere, the scoring is much higher. While in soccer, a 2-1 or 3-1 game is relatively difficult, Brazil beat Portugal 7-4 in the semis, while France beat Portugal today (for the Bronze) 6-4, and there was even a 10-4 game in the earlier rounds. Thus, the scoring looks much less like hockey (pre-changes to the rules), and more like baseball, where a 1-0 game can still happen, but a 7-5 game is just as likely. Given the participation this year of countries as various as Poland, Japan, Iran, Canada, and Nigeria (among others), I only hope it gains in popularity the world over, including in the U.S.

And congratulations to Brazil, the first (official) 6-time World Cup Champion (plus 8 other unofficial championships).