Futevôlei: Is this why Brazil is better than England at football?

I’ll be honest from the start, I like football a lot – I used to play a bit and I think it’s a great game. I’m not obsessed with football though; I don’t love it. If anything, my interest in the game has faded a bit over the last 15 years. I certainly don’t think football is a matter of life or death (or even more important than that), so if you’re looking for insightful and up-to-date football analysis, you should probably check out some proper blogs.

Did anyone stick around for the second paragraph? OK, so now that we’ve established that I’m no expert on the subject, let’s talk football! I have a premise so deeply ingrained in my footballing psyche that I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake it: Brazil are better than England. For most of my life this had been an indisputable fact. The fact that this is now a matter for some debate (sadly due to a slump in Brazil’s form rather than a surge in England’s) is something I still struggle to get my head around.

But why are (were?) they so much better than us?


Brazilians play a lot of football. But then so do the English!


On my first trip to the beach in Rio I saw something that made me go “Ah! So that’s why they’re so good!”:

Read more

Who wants to be a Brazilian?

I want to start by saying that I really love Brazil and Brazilians. Brazil is a beautiful and diverse country and if I had to characterise Brazilians, I would say that they were kind, warm, hard-working and thoughtful people. Of course Brazil has its fair share of problems, and not every Brazilian is kind, warm, thoughtful, but I think Brazilians have plenty to be proud of.


Flag of Brazil

Ordem e Progresso – the motto on Brazil’s excellent flag.


I wanted to make that clear because I don’t want the rest of this post to be mistaken for being somehow anti-Brazilian. With that out of the way, let’s continue!

A few weeks ago I finally received my official Brazilian ID card for foreigners (RNE – Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros). It was a great moment, the culmination of 2 years of filling in forms, making visits to the Federal Police and waiting – with the arrival of my ID card I was finally an official resident of Brazil! When I mentioned this to friends and colleagues, several people asked if I would now go on to seek Brazilian citizenship. This got me thinking – do I actually want to become Brazilian?

Read more


Some time ago Mrs EatRio and I were cooking up something delicious in the kitchen (prawn and lemon risotto since you ask). As I was getting the drinks I said “Would you mind spooning the risotto out into those those bowls?”

Her reply surprised me. Instead of the usual “Yes chef!” that I expect and demand in my kitchen, she asked incredulously “Spooning? I can spoon something out? I love how almost anything can be a verb in English.”

It wasn’t something I’d ever given much thought, but now that she had mentioned it I felt a warm glow of pride as if somehow I was responsible for the remarkable versatility of my native tongue. I excitedly blurted out “You can ladle out soup too! You know, using a ladle!” and waited expectantly for her amazed reaction to this new linguistic revelation, but instead she replied with a barely interested “Oh…” and I realised that the magic of the moment had passed…

More recently I stumbled upon something which shows that Portuguese can play that game too.


This is popcorn. In Portuguese it is pipoca. Image source

Read more

Just like watching Brazil

During a recent Portuguese lesson (yes, I’ve restarted lessons!) a word came up that was unfamiliar to me – goleou. The context was the description of a football match and went something like “Last Saturday night Barcelona goleou AC Milan”. I asked my teacher about this word and she said “It’s when one team beats another team by many goals. You know, like a chocolate” (pronounced in the Portuguese manner: shocko-LATCH). Well, that left me even more confused/intrigued. I’d never heard of a chocolate in football. I decided some research was in order.

It turns out that the national obsession of Brazil has given rise to a rich and diverse set of words, phrases and sayings. I expect that today’s post will be just the tip of the football iceberg so if there any football experts out there then I’d love to hear about the ones I’ve missed out.


As my teacher told me, a goleada is a what English commentators might call a drubbing. A win with a large margin of victory. Goleada is the noun, goleou is the 3rd person past tense conjugation of the verb golear (to win by many goals). There is some discussion over exactly what constitutes a goleada, some saying that the margin of victory must be at least 3, others saying it must be 4.

Chocolate de futebol

This cartoon, entitled Blue Chocolate, celebrates the goleada of Brazilian side Cruzeiro over Venezuelan size Caracas back in 2008. Final score 3-0. The fox (?) of Cruzeiro is saying “Give Hugo Chavez a hug from me if you can”. Source


Read more

Eu quero tchu…

Every so often a song comes along that is so annoying, you just have to do something to get it out of your system. During the year of my Latin American travels the song was the Black Eyed Peas’ I’ve got a feeling. It was everywhere – in clubs, bars, bus stations, you name it – there was no escape. Very quickly it would take just the opening notes of  send everyone groaning in pain. The problem wasn’t just that it was a fairly crappy song. The problem was that like it or not, you would find yourself humming it constantly. And if you weren’t humming it, someone else nearby would be humming it and guess what – 30 seconds later you would be humming it again.

Well right now in Brazil we are suffering another of these torture songs. If you’ve been subjected to it already then all I need to say is “Eu quero tchu…“. You will roll your eyes and reply: “Eu quero tcha” and then I will go “Eu quero tchu tcha tcha tchu tcha…”. Like all the best/worst of these songs, it comes with a dance and in this case it even features a celebrity footballer.

This is Neymar – a hugely skillful footballer who plays for Santos and Brazil. Apparently his goal celebration inspired João Lucas and Marcelo to score their hit Tchu Tcha Tcha.

Read more

Race, language and the word ‘negro’ in Brazil.

I’ve been wanting to write something about race in Brazil for a while. There have been quite a few things floating around in my head on the subject because there are so many differences between the UK and Brazil: history, population demographics, language and attitudes. So, it’s been on my ‘To Do’ list for a while and then recent events in England made me think again about the situation here in Brazil.

Left, Patrice Evra for Manchester United; Right, Luis Suárez for Liverpool.

Read more

Clash of the Corruptions

People in Rio are always talking about the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Will they be a success? What will become of Rio afterwards? Will the pacified favelas be abandoned and left to fall back into the control of drug dealers? What will happen to house prices? The list goes on.

A recent story was that Jérôme Valcke, the General Secretary of FIFA (football’s governing body), has been visiting Brazil to oversee the world cup preparations. Mr Valcke kicked up a storm by stating not only that beer must be sold in Brazilian stadiums, but that it will be sold in Brazilian stadiums. This is in spite of the fact that there has been a law here making such alcohol sales illegal since 2003 2008 (thanks Andre)! His words were:

“Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate.”

Highlighting the fact that you're being arrogant doesn't excuse the arrogance. The head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter (also a scumbag), is a big fan of Valcke, saying: "When he began his work as director of marketing and TV in FIFA four and a half years ago, we were in a financial crisis. Currently we have an equity of 752 million Swiss francs."


Read more

The things you see at the beach

A few days ago I found myself strolling down the famous black and white tiled path that runs alongside the beach in Ipanema. I hadn’t been along that way in a while and I was reminded of what a great place it is for people watching. 

The iconic black and white pathways of Ipanema


Little EENYO

One of the things that that I find endearing about the Brazilians is their love of diminutives. These typically involve adding an “inho” (EEN-yo) or “inha” (EEN-ya) to the end of words. For example, although the Portuguese for ‘bill’ is conta, you will often hear people ask the waiter to bring the continha (con-CHEEN-ya). Perhaps this is wishful thinking that the bill will be small? I don’t think we really have an equivalent in English. Well, certainly nothing that doesn’t make us sound ridiculous (“Waiter, please bring me the billykins”).

The name Manuela is often shortened to Manu, but this is then paradoxically lengthened with an affectionate diminutive to make Manuzinha. 

Diminutives are also commonly used in *footballers’ names. My understanding of this is simply that their real names don’t exactly trip off the tongue. Compare Ronaldinho to Ronaldo de Assis Moreira. Or Pelé to Edison Arantes do Nascimento

Read more