Next stop on the Global Gooner Passion tour is Brazil and the focus of this blog will be around ‘Arsenal Brasil.’ and its officials and members.
One might be surprised at the popularity of Arsenal in Brazil. After all many of the countries we have visited have a passion for the Premier League and Arsenal as their own local leagues are not strong. This is patently not the case in Brazil but nevertheless there is strong connection with Arsenal. My suspicion was that the following was down to the Wenger style of football, striking chord with Brazilians, and of course the successful influx at Arsenal above any other EPL side of Brazilian stars at Highbury and the Emirates. However the best way for us to learn about the passion for all things Arsenal in the Samba nation, is to ask those responsible.
So today’s blog is put together with the assistance and support of ‘Arsenal Brasil.’ the officially recognised Arsenal supporters club, and some of its fabulous officials. The origins of the now official club were born out of the desire for a group of fanatical Arsenal fans in Brazil to get together on the internet to discuss the club and all things football. The group was launched on ‘Orkut’ which is a facebook type social media network in Brazil and was the idea of the club founder Hendrix Freire. Gooners from all over the vast country that is Brazil could visit the site and discus on a form and leave comments about the club
The group contacted Arsenal to discover what was required for formalise the club and make it official in the eyes of the club. They learned that their group of disparate fans need to have a President, a Treasurer and a Secretary. Moreover they need d to grow to 50 in number and all these fans currently chatting online would have to be members. The number were achieved rapidly but it was not until Jan 2010 that everything was in place and the paperwork, accounts etc were sent to Arsenal and the long awaited news arrived back on the 19th March 2010. ‘Arsenal Brasil’ was official and from them they could act accordingly. This includes crucially the ability to offer significant and real member benefits, such as discounted merchandise and of course access to tickets and club trips to the see the Arsenal.
Since March 2010 the supporters club has expanded and is able to take the Arsenal message officially to all parts of the huge country. The website is of course the hub and the club’s activity and you can check this out here http://www.arsenalbrasil.com.br/
The guys who began this journey are extremely proud that the Brazilian Supporters club is the first and still the only official Arsenal Supporters club in Latin America. I caught up with the Club Secretary Alcysio Canette and conducted a short interview but first let’s here from Club spokesman, Rodrigo Feijo, a founder member, chatting to the official Arsenal Fanzone guys in Fans from Afar. Please scroll through the film to Brazil. This is from December 2010, before the Chelsea Boxing day fixture I believe.
So Alcysio thank for taking time to answer a few questions to help us understand the passion for Arsenal in Brazil. Just to let you know Mattheus Vianna (Club President) has sent me a picture of you to use in the blog, with none other than Gilberto Silva.
I’ve seen that. Sadly I’m not looking my best in it heh
Firstly I would like to get a feel for the following in Brazil of the Premier League. Are all the games on live on TV?
We get about four of five matches per weekend here, all cable TV. Now that Fox has sharing rights with ESPN, that number should even increase. Championship also gets broadcasted.
We have heard how huge the Premier League is in Africa relative to European leagues. Where do you think or know we sit in the pecking order of Brazilian affections?
The Premier league is the trendy European league here for the last three or four years. So of the people that actually like foreign leagues, which aren’t that many, as most of the people in Brazil watch their clubs and no more, the Premier league is the favourite league. It has moved way head of the Italian or Spanish leagues.
Do most of your members have a Brazilian side as well as Arsenal?
Some do but actually some of our members just follow Arsenal and no domestic side at all.
Are most Arsenal games televised in Brazil?
Out of the 38 league games, I’d say about 34 or 35 get live broadcast. As Arsenal is one of the main clubs in the League and it’s decently supported around here, specially due to a strong influx of Brazilians in the early 2000′s, when the premier league in general had only Juninho playing for Boro.
How big an influence of the arrival at Arsenal and the subsequent success of Silvinho, Edu and Gilberto been?
Think I answered that above, but yes having successful Brazilians at Arsenal was important
So now to you Alcysio. Can you describe how and when your love affair with the Arsenal begun? Was it love at first sight, a slow burner or was their one moment or one player perhaps?
I support Arsenal mainly because of Dennis Bergkamp. Being a little kid in the 98′ World Cup and watching him do his magic (especially against Argentina) really did it for me. Davor Suker, another player I liked moving to Arsenal just after helped too. But as the PL only begun to be broadcasted in Brazil in 02′, it took a little while to truly follow The Arsenal. By then Sylvinho and Edu were there and Gilberto followed after the World cup.
For those who need reminded how Dennis knocked Brazilian rivals Argentina out of the World Cup in the 89th minute click here
I guess I have always thought the style of football Arsenal have played under Wenger would appeal to the Brazilian view on how the game should be played?
Until 2008 or so, surely, but I don’t think we’ve been playing quite as attractive football for the past three seasons. Anyways, glories seem to more of a magnet than the style of play to some but us hardcore will stick with Arsenal.
What is your involvement with the Arsenal Supporters Club Brazil? Can you tell us about the activity of the club, how it got started, its website, the forum etc?
I’m the SC’s secretary, and took up this position last year, when one of the board members resigned. We’ve been recognised since2010, but the website activities go back to mid 2008, when some people that aren’t involved at all right now, alongside Hendrix Freire, who is still in the club, started the project. It all started as a place for Brazilian Gooners to meet and talk Arsenal and it kind of evolved from there. Now we have become a source that local journos go to in order to read a few of our posts, especially the ones about the clubs administration and finances.
Yes I noticed the blogs and articles on the site are superb. Has the club being officially recognised by Arsenal FC in March 2010 made a difference?
Yes it has as it adds a lot of credibility to the whole thing and made a lot of people join, me included. When you know the clubs is backing the club, you know they won’t just go away with your money and stuff.
I see from your website that tickets are available to club members. How may club members are there now and how many travel over to see the Arsenal live?
We have 130 members and about 30 of them got tickets to watch the Arsenal live. Lots of them bought for more than one match, so we’ve bought about 75 tickets or so in this past two years. And that number should get to one hundred as a good few of us will go for the Boxing Day fixtures.
Have you travelled over yourself and if so to which games and can you describe your match day experiences?
I have, but strangely before I was and Arsenal Brasil member. I was there for Arsenal 2-2 Everton in Jan 7th 2010. Dire day, snowfall during the match, and I was in the last rows of the upper tier, so, freezing to death. We didn’t play well that day and I almost turned into a Popsicle. Would love to do it again, though (just with us winning, naturally)
With the next World Cup being in Brazil have you considered any way that the supporters club might assist Arsenal fans in getting over to see the games as it will be very expensive?
To be perfectly honest, it hasn’t crossed our minds just yet. But if any supporters or supporters club contacts us asking for tips and a little help we’d be delighted to help a fellow Gooner out
I may just take you up on that my friend. You must be hoping that by 2014 the core of the team with Gibbs, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain could be Gunners.
I just hope that most of the Arsenal team comes down so I can stalk them, really. I personally don’t have any soft spot for the English Team (or any other national team)
Is there one player in your time supporting Arsenal that is your personal favourite or perhaps there is more than one? Perhaps also tell us why?
From 98′ to now, it has to be Dennis. He’s the reason I support this club and he was an absolute magician on the ball, always precise, never predictable, a true class act. An honourable mention to Gilberto, who was the best holding midfielder I’ve seen for the Arsenal and a really down to earth nice guy.
What has been the stand out moment or moments for you since you have followed Arsenal?
Many, but the winning the league unbeaten at WHL has to be the best. (Spoken like a true Gooner!)
Is there any particular signing/s you would like to see this summer ahead of the new season?
A few actually. For starters, we need an experienced keeper to push Szczesny so he won’t get complacent, a left-back that can defend and not get injured for long spells would be good too. But for me the most important signing would be a true holding midfielder. I would love to see us chasing Gokhan Inler for that role.
What are you hopes/aspirations for Arsenal for 2012/13?
We’ll scrape a CL qualification and try our luck at the cups, can’t see this squad pushing for the title till the very end.
I also got to chat briefly with Mattheus Vianna, Arsenal Brasil President and he was kind enough to send me some photos of he and some of the other Arsenal Brasil members on their trips over after Christmas 201 and 2011. Mattheus writes great blogs on the Club site and I suggest you use the translator and have a read. Matttheus himself, Karlo, Arsenal Brasil Treasurer, and some of the members managed to hand around the hotel in which the team where staying and meet Pat Rice, Wenger and some of the players on their morning stroll.
And dreams come true in December last year……
So there you have it Brazil, as passionate nation, passionate about their football and seemingly passionate about the Arsenal. I also caught up with Gabriel Eckhardt, known to many as @WoolwichBrasil on twitter and one quote from him summed up the relationship between Brazil, their football and Arsenal perfectly -
Until next time thanks for reading. Next time however, will be a good 2 weeks away as I am off on holiday, so thanks to all for bearing with me, my guests and the ‘Global Gooner Passion’ tour, which will continue at the end of July.
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