Rio de Janeiro

Claudio Fabiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, tells us what it means to live in a country completely dominated by football, how Brazil uses the riches of the Amazon and what young people dream about growing up in favelas.

Yes, Brazilians are still dominated by football – says Claudio Fabiano from Rio de Janeiro, who has been living in Europe for several years. – Football is a kind of national religion that most Brazilians practise with full commitment.

How is it possible?

People are frustrated by the political and economic situation in the country – explains Claudio. – The lack of opportunities to influence corrupt politicians makes people focus their attention elsewhere, in this case on football. Football players are recognized as national heroes, people have faith in them, and that’s why it is the footballers who often manage to win elections and receive parliamentary seats.

Are women involved in football as much as men?

Beginning from the 1990s, the image of a typical football player in the eyes of women underwent a radical change. Back in the 1980s, footballers belonged to the poorer part of society, they were often illiterate, and jokes about the grammatical errors they had made during interviews were also made. With the process of time, however, this image changed, footballers began to earn millions and their profession began to take on more and more importance. Currently, more and more women are watching football matches, which can be proved by their presence at the stadiums.

Do all young boys dream about being famous footballers?

Most of the famous footballers come from very poor families. They grew up in difficult conditions, also in favelas, and sport was the only chance for them to get out of this environment and for social advancement. Currently, young people from lower social classes, who want to change the quality of their lives and get out of poverty, have two options: either choose activities related to some sport, art, dance … Or enter a criminal environment which, in a sense, is a guarantee and allows to improve the quality of their lives.

How does it feel to live in a country with such rich flora and fauna? Is the proximity of the Amazon felt in the everyday life of the Brazilians?

Life close to nature is great – admits Claudio. – Nature is our medicine. In the first place, Brazilians take advantage of natural resources for more or less severe ailments as well as for preventive purposes. The climate of the Amazon is humid and very specific, however, the climate in large Brazilian cities, such as Rio, is slightly different. Therefore, to live in Brazil does not always mean being close to the Amazon and its natural resources.

What are the problems faced by Brazilians in their daily lives?

The biggest problems should be, and are not, resolved by the government. These are primarily problems related to safety, health, education and transport. Despite the high taxes paid by citizens, the abovementioned problems are still the biggest worry of the Brazilians.

What foreigners do not know about Brazil and Brazilias?

Brazil is a wonderful country with an extremely interesting history. Brazil is not only Rio, Copacabana and samba. The coast is just a gateway to our wonderful culture, which is definitely worth exploring from within.

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