Football Fever | Analysts: Most Jamaicans backing 'flairy' Brazil
The magic of Messi and his predecessor, Maradona, as well as the pragmatism of Die Mannschaft, and the 'tiki-taka' style have won Argentina, Germany, and Spain, respectively, many local supporters throughout the decades.
But once the 21st FIFA World Cup gets under way today in Russia, local football analysts are convinced that the bulk of the sporting fans will still be leaning heavily towards the five-time champions, Brazil.
Harbour View Football Club General Manager Clyde Jureidini said that Jamaica's love affair with the Selecao dates back to the 1960s and was reaffirmed in the 1970s when Brazil began to stamp its brand of football dominance on the world.
Jureidini noted that it was also during this period that a few international Brazil-based clubs, most notably, a Pele-led Santos, visited the island.
"The worship was for players of colour who performed on the world stage. The Brazilians were champions in this regard, and of course, [because of] their style of play, and PelÈ, who was adored around the world," Jureidini said.
"Also, it was in1970 that Jamaicans came closer to watching the World Cup locally, largely at the National Arena. At that time, too, the Brazilians were at their best," Jureidini recounted. "So the affinity and tradition came largely from many coaches and players in Jamaica being associated to that side or era of football, which was largely defined by Brazil," he added.
Jureidini further pointed out that the only national football coach to secure Jamaica's qualification to a World Cup, Rene Simoes, was a Brazilian, likewise his compatriot, Jorge Pena, who came close to achieving this in the 1960s.
MECCA FOR FOOTBALL
Sports publicist Tanya Lee agrees with Jureidini, stating that while the consumption of European league football year-round fosters interest in other countries, Brazil was and is still generally seen by Jamaicans as the Mecca for football.
"I also think it is based on Alan 'Skill' Cole having been the greatest footballer we had seen at that time and the fact that he played for a Brazilian club," said Lee. "I also believe that since then, the Brazilian flair and fun with which they play football resonate well with Jamaicans, who have a very 'flairy' personality. There are a lot of cultural similarities between our two countries. We're fun, festive people," Lee argued.
She pointed to the popular practice of parents naming their children 'Romario' or 'Ronaldo' out of likely adoration for renowned Brazilian strikers over the years.
"And now there is Neymar," she asserted.
"So Brazil continues that tradition of producing footballers that bring that attacking flair that Jamaicans like. If you go to a football match at the National Stadium, people get excited not because you've made a great pass, but because you 'pile' or 'shift' a man. We love 'flairy' football, and that is Brazil," she contended.