Right now, we're going to head into two Brazilian neighborhoods. Since the Portuguese landed in the 1500, successive waves of people from all over the world have landed on Brazil's shores. The Italian and Japanese communities are two of the strongest. And as luck would have it, both Japan and Italy were playing in the World Cup on the same day this week. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro set out in Sao Paulo to check out how fans from very different backgrounds were celebrating.
Italians started coming to Brazil during the late 1800s when the home country was riven with the wars of unification. Many went into agriculture, and the Brazilian government gave some land grants. Successive waves joined them, and now they're one of the biggest European ethnic groups here.
The first ship of Japanese came to Brazil in 1908. The Japanese government was facing overpopulation and encouraged people to move overseas. They were used as cheap labor here in agriculture. Later, during World War II, it was forbidden to even speak Japanese, as Brazil was on the side of the Allies.
More Japanese immigrants moved here at the end of the war. These days, Japanese culture in Brazil is widely celebrated, adding one more facet to this complicated country. And the fact is that almost everyone everywhere here told me the same thing. It didn't matter where their fore-bearers had come from, the team they really want to win the World Cup is Brazil.
Since the US obviously is a nation of immigrants, the "split" loyalties are bound to be numerous, but my sense is that here, too, everyone wants the American team to win, no matter what their migration roots. Of course, the US lost to Germany today, which would seem like a bad thing, but we're moving on anyway, which is a good thing. This is clearly why soccer is the "beautiful game."