[to top of second column]
But politics are a distant second to what it's really about: winning well-played soccer. Haitians' passion for soccer runs deep. Pickup games are played in the slums, streets and earthquake camps, anywhere there is space. The contrarians side with Argentina -- and by extension whoever is playing Brazil on any given day.
There is no doubt who gets the most support.
Outside the soccer stadium, a giant morgue with thousands of bodies just after the quake, Brazilian soldiers on Sunday handed out jerseys from an armored personnel carrier. In a clever piece of marketing, the yellow, green-trimmed shirts bore a Haitian and Brazilian flag over each breast and the slogan "Ansanm Pou Lape" (together for peace) on the front, and the French initials of the 14,000-strong force, MINUSTAH, in green on the back.
Inside, soldiers provided low-key security, posing for pictures and strolling in baseball caps instead of their usual sky-blue helmets. When Brazil jumped out 2-0, most looked more impressed with the ecstasy in the stands than Luis Fabiano's two soaring shots to the back of the net.
"It's very beautiful, this love, this situation," said a beaming Lt. Richard Spindola, 26, a soldier from the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. Asked if Haitians were more passionate about Brazilian soccer than he and his friends, he smiled. "Oh yes, I think so. This is a big party."
When the game briefly turned sour -- Kaka was ejected for a foul and Ivory Coast notched a lone goal -- the stadium crew put on dance music to settle the crowd. Cheerleaders in tight white shorts and yellow jerseys danced through the stands.
A popular local DJ, Bem Constant, egged on the crowd, riffing on players names: "You want Kaka? Here is Kaka!" he shouted to applause and laughter. (The name of Brazil's star player is also a dirty word in Creole.)
In the end, Brazil secured the victory 3-1, qualifying for the second round, and the crowd poured with everyone else into the cracked and crumbling streets.
All the destruction, stalled rebuilding, hunger and loss melted away in a few happy minutes of dancing and horn-honking. The home team had won.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Sports index
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor