Germany won the World Cup in Brazil for the first time after the country was united in 1990. It was in 1990 that West Germany had won the world cup. The whole nation was jubilant at the return of the coveted FIFA World Cup to the country. Germany was above all and will be for the next four years until they will have to defend the title in Russia in 2018.
However, in this backdrop of the jubilation of victory, Germany forgot a challenge by a small football club in a favela, or a slum, in Sao Paulo. Slums are omnipresent in Brazilian cities but were not visible among the fanfare of the World Cup. If not for the protests that rocked the country, the poor in Brazil would have been even more invisible to the media.
Anita Garibaldi favela is in Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. Youngsters flock to the football ground in the favela for the love of the game. They also have a team, the Anita Futbol Club. Players from Anita FC, wanted to prove to the world that poverty is no obstacle to achieving success in sports. For this, about a week after the Football World Cup kicked off in Brazil, the team issued a challenge to the eventual world champions. Anita FC wanted to see the world champions play against them in their home ground.
Anita FC is supported by a Latin American NGO, Techo. The NGO issued a media release which said “We want their reality, and the reality of millions of people living in poverty, to be known by the world.”
Furthermore, it stated that “In every training session, every game, every time the ball moves, they are confronting much more than a rival, they are confronting their adversities.”
However, the young team was positive about their capability. “I’ve embraced this utopian ideal [of challenging the world champions] as I see the boys believe it is going to happen. And if they believe it, then so do I,” said Anita FC coach Alexandre Romao in June as reported by RT.
“I would like to play Brazil because that way the majority of players would be returning to their roots, the pitches where they learned to play football in this country,” the coach stated further.
However, Brazil was shot out of contention by Germany, the eventual champions, by a shocking defeat of 7-1 in Belo Horizonte. In the final on July 13, Germany defeated Argentina 1-0.
Germans may never have seen the story about the challenge of Anita FC. Perhaps RT was the only mainstream TV channel that carried the story and therefore, there must have been only limited coverage. Perhaps Germans were basking in jubilation to remember Anita FC. Whatever the reason, the Germans did not go to Anita FC.
The youngsters in Anita Garibaldi may still be waiting for the world champions to come and face their challenge. Even if they did not play a match, it will be a happy day if the world champions visit them to see their plight and the way they face their challenges in life.