Brazilian players, coaches and fans danced, grooved and samba’d after each one of the four goals A Selacao scored in a 4-1 rout of South Korea on Monday. It was a “wonderful party,” as superstar Neymar said, and one that doesn’t feel ready to end.
Brazil is ranked the No. 1 team in the world by FIFA and is a favorite to win a record sixth-World Cup title here. It would also easily be a favorite to win “Dancing With The Stars: 2022 World Cup Edition” if that existed. It has pizazz, style and flair – characteristics that are an inherent part of the culture – and players are not ashamed to show their personality on the field.
“This is not my team. This is Brazil’s team and I have the responsibility of being its head coach,” manager Tite said Thursday ahead of a quarterfinal matchup with Croatia (10 a.m. ET Friday on FOX and the FOX Sports app). “I will not make comments to those who don’t know Brazilian history and culture. It’s not being disrespectful to anyone else – that’s how we do things. It’s part of the culture that will help educate kids back in school.
“We will keep doing things our way.”
Every country has different traits and personalities that differentiate them in a global tournament such as this. Brazil’s just happens to be wildly fun. The way in which they score and celebrate have always been much-watch theater and this World Cup is no different.
Four different players scored goals for Brazil in the first 37 minutes of its knockout victory over South Korea. It was too hard to judge which was best – the goal or the ensuing dance routine.
After Vinicius Jr.’s goal to open the scoring barrage in the seventh minute, four players ran to the left corner of the field and did the macarena. After Neymar’s penalty a few minutes later, players huddled in a circle and jumped up and down in unison. After Richarlison‘s – a thing of beauty and skill in which he juggled the ball on his head, then his foot, and then finished after a give-and-go with Marquinos and Thiago Silva – the striker slid toward the right corner flag before running to the sideline and did a jig with Tite. And finally, after Lucas Paqueta volleyed Brazil’s final goal of the evening, he ran to the right corner flag and did a little cha-cha-cha.
“They are very young; they have a language of dancing,” Tite said afterward. “They laugh and they joke. We were not disrespecting our opponent – that was not the case. We just couldn’t hide it. We tried, but we couldn’t.”
On Thursday, Tite was asked about dancing on the sideline and if he was trying to send a message by joining in on the fun.
“I think it’s a connection I have with the younger generation,” he said. “I am 61 years old and work with players that are 21-22 years old. They could be my grandchildren and I have a connection with them.
“And if I have to dance to connect with them, then I’ll continue dancing.”
There is no need for Brazil to stop. This is who they are. And for those who don’t like it, there’s an easy solution. Don’t look.
“They have their own way, they celebrate how they know how,” Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic said Thursday. “It’s festive, shows unity, they’re demonstrating their character and tradition and it’s their right.
“I would not like to see my players celebrate like that, but it’s a different culture. They like to dance and it’s nice to watch.”
Dalic wasn’t being critical; dancing isn’t part of his team’s identity. He did go on to say that Brazil is the “fastest and best team we’ve seen at this World Cup,” and that they have “nothing to lose” in the quarterfinal.
And while he might like watching A Selacao dance when they’re playing another opponent, he hopes his players don’t give them a reason to celebrate on Friday.
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Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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