Brazilian Club Team to Iran: Please Don’t Let Your National Pride Interfere with the Hate We Feel for Our Biggest Rival

The Iranian Men’s National Team qualified for the World Cup by finishing at the top of their group during Asian qualifying.  Iran will be playing in Group F with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Nigeria.  Along with Argentina, who are sure to get through to the knock-out round, Iran stands a fair chance of advancing out of group play.  Iran’s colors, which I promise are a significant part of this story, are red, white, and green.

When teams go to the World Cup, they choose a “home base,” a place where the team can train and feel at home.  Often, these home bases are the training facilities of local club teams.  Iran has set up their home base at the training facilities of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, better known simply as Corinthians.  Corinthians is currently the biggest club team in Brazil.  They boast the most fans, have recently won a string of major titles–including both the Copa Libertadores (South American Club Championship) and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2012, and have a beautiful new stadium that will host six World Cup matches, including the opener between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday.  Corinthians is a force to be reckoned with.  Their nickname, “O Timão,” meaning “the big” or “the great team,” even speaks to the grandeur with which their fans see them.

Other than being, perhaps, the biggest club in South America, Corinthians and its fans are known for being particularly passionate.  This passion for all things Corinthians, however, reached a level of ridiculousness this week that deserves to be mentioned.  Corinthians’ biggest rival is Palmeiras, a club that I wrote about here Palmeiras‘ nickname is “O Verdão,” meaning “the Big Green.”  Corinthians hates the color green.  In fact, the club hates it so much that they tried, and failed, to get FIFA to ban its use on Corinthians’ uniforms during the FIFA Club World Cup.  Clubs were required to wear a predominantly-green logo for “Football for Hope” in the tournament that year.

All of this green hate has spilled over into Iran’s use of Corinthians’ practice facilities.  Now, Iran’s home kits are white with red and green trim.  Iran’s away jerseys are red with green and white trim.  Apparently, however, Iran’s practice kits are green.  You can see where this is going, right?  According to Fox Sports Brazil, Corinthians has required that Iran forego the use of their green practice kits while using Corinthians’ facilities in order to avoid the use of their rivals’ colors.  Umm, what?  Shouldn’t Corinthians have looked into Iran’s colors before agreeing to allow the team to use their facilities?  In response, Palmeiras fans have called for the extension of an invitation to the Iranian National Team to use Palmeiras’ facilities where, obviously, the use of a green shirt will not be a problem.  One commentator in the media has suggested that Corinthians should request that the grass at their facility be painted blue.  Hey!  That’s been done before!

However this turns out, wishes Iran all the best in the World Cup.

Soccer Culture: Supporters Chants, Songs, and Anthems

A little over a year ago, Rancid drummer and huge Real Salt Lake supporter Brandon Steineckert forever changed the supporter culture at Real Salt Lake by introducing the world to RSL’s Believe chant, which the club has now adopted as its official anthem.  Soccer chants, songs, and anthems are an integral part of soccer culture around the world.  The songs and chants unify fans and spur the teams’ players on during matches.

This past week, Steineckert did it again when he introduced a new chant for the U.S. Men’s National Team (lovingly referred to in print as the USMNT by supporters and journalists).  I, personally, think that the chant is well done:

The USMNT finally has a unifying chant that is catchy, memorable, and unique. Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of negativity about the chant on the internet (because there’s no sure sign of success like internet haterade . . . well, unless you’re this).  Some complain that the chant sounds too much like “Believe.”  Some complain that it is too long and that casual fans or even the American Outlaws (one of the USMNT’s most ardent supporters groups) will never take the time to memorize it.  Some complain that the new chant is too “top down,” that soccer chants need to grow organically out of the experiences of the  fans at matches, the way that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was adopted by Liverpool fans at Anfield in the early 1960s.  But this is the 21st Century.  We communicated via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and many other social media networks.  If the best way to get “We Stand United” out to the people is via social media then so be it.

As for the complaints that the song is too long, those just don’t hold water.  “We Stand United” is just 53 words long and takes about 35 seconds to sing from beginning to end.  It’s a good length.  I think that “Believe,” by comparison, is too short.  The chant is only 28 words long and could really use a bridge.  That being said, it’s a great chant and a great starting point for fans in Salt Lake, who are still at the beginning of building a soccer culture in town.

One of my favorite anthems in world soccer is the Hino do Palmeiras, which is sung by supporters of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, a club in São Paulo, Brazil.  The Hino do Palmeiras is 89 words long and when you get 20,000+ supporters singing it, it is quite a thing to behold.

The anthem, which has been sung since the 1950s (or earlier?), names Palmeiras fans as the “torcida que canta e vibra,” in English “the supporters who sing and shake,” and, boy, do they!  They sing with all their might!  They jump back and forth along the rows of the stadium!  Unity!  Which is what an anthem is supposed to foster.

“We Stand United” is a great place to start for USMNT supporters.  They already have various chants.  But one can only chant “I believe that we will win” for about 20 seconds before it gets old.  Besides, that chant is used all over the place and sometimes to greater effect.  “We Stand United” gives supporters of the USMNT something to call their own that they can take to Brazil, that they can use to spur the team on to victory, and that they can use for many years to come.  Who knows?  In 60 years USMNT supporters might sound as good as Palmeiras fans.