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“It’s part of our culture”: Brazil coach Tite rails at Freudentanz critics

“It’s part of our culture”
Brazil coach Tite lashes out at Freudentanz critics

By Stephan Uersfeld, Doha

Brazil is playing the most beautiful football at this World Cup. The Selecao around coach Tite inspires with goals and dances. But they bring serious accusations against them. The 61-year-old defends himself against this and also clarifies the big cat-litter scandal.

What a wonderful show in Press Conference Hall 1 at Media Center in Doha. Brazil were guests with defender Danilo, coach Tite and assistant coach Cléber Xavier. They proved that they are not among the most entertaining teams in this World Cup on the pitch. They also proved that they don’t want to be deterred from their path. A whole country is united behind the Selecao. Attacks from outside are of no interest.

Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphina, Richarlison, Casemiro, Marquinho, Thiago Silva and Alisson in goal. When the Selecao plays at the World Championships in Doha these days, the best entertainment is guaranteed. Like on Monday, when they completely dismantled South Korea in a furious first half in the no longer existent container stadium 974 and danced on the sidelines after a wonderful goal from Richarlison full of bliss. Because they were so happy and wanted to savor the moment. Who knows when it will end and if not, then just keep dancing.

And not because they wanted to mock their opponents, as was widely accused of doing so. The most ardent critics even wanted to ban dancing. Even Tite was once very clear: “I’m not going to comment on those who don’t know Brazilian history and culture as well as any of us, I’ll put this noise aside. It’s not disrespectful. It’s part of our culture . We will continue to do things our way.”

Tite orders the crew to ambush

“You know,” said the one, whom they all just call Professor and who respectfully asks everyone their names, when asked about the dance with the dream goalscorer Richarlison, “that’s my way of staying in touch with the younger generation. Me I’m 61, the players could be my grandchildren and if I have to dance to connect with them then I will always dance with them.”

Dancing and enjoying the beautiful game. Who could blame the Brazilians? Before the game against Croatia, the Selecao underpinned their role as favorites in the run-up to the tournament with performance. The country, deeply divided after the Bolsonaro years, is looking for new common ground, for a new story that will reconcile supporters of the Bolsonaro regime and the new President Lula, at least for a moment, for eternity. Because that would be the first world title after 2002 and that’s why they’re here.

Led by their weather-beaten trainer, who ordered his team to attack, attack high and who can only observe the interplay of all elements on the sidelines. “If this team is a painting, the athletes are the ones who paint the picture, they are the portrayed, we coaches just help to paint the picture,” Tite said.

Failure is always an option

It is an image that puts nothing and nobody in the foreground, not even the superstar and anti-hero Neymar, who caused a stir with his support for Jair Bolsonaro before the World Cup and lost even more sympathy in his home country. “It’s not my team,” says Tite. “It’s the Brazilian team. It’s the Brazilian identity. It’s not me. The Brazilian football identity has existed for a long time.”

It has existed since 1958 at the latest, the year in which the then 17-year-old Pelé won the world championship for the first time. Twelve years later he was a three-time world champion and one of the greatest footballers to ever play the game. He is, if you put it that way, the father of the generation of players who battled it out for the title of greatest footballer of all time in Doha for the last time. Brazil won two more World Cups without him: 1994 in the USA, 2002 in South Korea/Japan. After that, they failed three times in the quarterfinals and once, at the home World Cup eight years ago, in the semifinals. They never reached the final again.

That’s the danger with Brazil. Failure is always an option. And so the journalists present were also worried about it, wanting to rule out exactly that happening. They checked everything. They warned against running into the open knife of the opponents and noted that you can score in both halves and apologized to thunderous applause for too loud criticism in advance. Defender Danilo agrees. “If we’re all walking in the same direction, then it’s easy to achieve our goals,” he said, and everyone agreed.

The story of the cat

In the short term, these goals can endanger the Croatians, who have been praised by Tite, like opponents who have really been dealt with. He spoke about their resilience, their tenacity and yet said that it would be about their own team’s game.

And then, of course, when it all came to an end, Tite had to comment on the flying cat. The day before, one of the many cats roaming through Doha had suddenly landed on the podium of the press conference at the Brazilian training camp and had been thrown down. “Scandal” and “brutal” had cried out the internet and the video was diligently shared because it was somehow strange and new.

A journalist asked in a loud voice whether the poor creature would now become the team’s mascot. “Dennis!” Tite said, because that was the questioner’s name. “Please ask our media director. He’s over there. Go away, cat, he told her.” After that, the press conference was soon over. Dennis, the reporter, lunged at the media director, with another journalist next to him. Phone pointed at him. The next scandal in the making. The media director smiled and didn’t answer. A few feet away, Tite popped up for a few selfies. He didn’t dance. So much could be observed from the back rows of the press conference.

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