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Brazil fans pack Diag to celebrate Cup win

BY BOB HUNT
Daily Sports Editor
Published June 30, 2002

It may not have been Rio de Janeiro or San Paulo, but for Brazilian soccer fans, it was a piece of home.

After Brazil won its fifth World Cup yesterday morning, Brazilians from all over Michigan came to the Diag entrance at the corner of North University Avenue and State Street in celebration.

Once Brazil had defeated Germany 2-0 to capture the world's largest sporting event, Brazilians started calling each other to find a meeting place to celebrate. Then more than 150 supporters danced and sang in a big circle in the glory of their homeland.

"I came all the way from Detroit just to be with Brazilians," said Marcie Alberts, who came to the United States from Rio 27 years ago and is now the president of the Brazilian Cultural Club of Detroit.

Alberts and her husband, Michael, got up to watch the 7 a.m. game at the Spectadium in Troy where people were already planning to head to Ann Arbor that afternoon to party.

"This is what you are going to see all over Brazil," Alberts said.

In a country where "Futbol" is a way of life, hundreds of thousands of fans packed the main streets and are likely to even take the day off today in a national holiday.

"My dad called me after the game crying and screaming," said Ellen Borgo, a San Paulo native who swims at Eastern Michigan. "And he made sure I was hearing the fireworks and everything."

As the fans danced to Brazilian drums, a few bystanders looked in confusion. But the indifference toward soccer by mainstream America did not bother any of the fans.

"(They are probably thinking) did the Red Wings win again or something?" Michigan State graduate student Alex Rodrigues said.

While they were celebrating Brazil's triumph, many were also excited about the United States' run to the quarterfinals. Ricky Suffana, president of the Brazilian American Youth Soccer Association in Ann Arbor, has seen his organization grow from four teams to 20 in just two years and now hosts everything from summer camps to soccer-mom leagues. He sees a day when the Americans can play with the Brazilians.

"It's a snowball," Suffana said. "There's no way to stop it."

His eyes could have seen the glory

During the United States' run to the World Cup quarterfinals, to say that ESPN play-by-play man Jack Edwards was enthusiastic is an understatement. Edwards bellowed "Mine eyes have seen the glory! The United States has beaten Portugal!" after the Americans' upset of the Portugese. What would Edwards have said if the United States had won the Cup over Brazil? Here are some ideas.

1) "This is better than any sex I've ever had!!"

2) "This land is your land, this land is my land, and our land just won the World Cup!!"

3) "And they're dancing in the streets from Miami to Hawaii!!"