By Tom Geffen
Few days from now, Brazil will face Germany at the final stage of the Olympic football games, which would be held at the mythological Maracanã stadium in Rio. Both teams have started the Olympic Games with two draws and continued with three consecutive wins. Brazil have scored 12 goals and did not concieve, while the Germans have scored 21 (!) goals and conceded 5.
|Needs to achieve revenge on Germany and to gain Brazilian football dignity back. Neymar (Official site)|
So far, Brazil has enjoyed a massive support from their home crowd. More than 50,000 supporters came to see their favorites hammering Honduras 6-0 in the semi-final. Due to the national team poor results at the last Copa America and World Cup, including the unforgettable 7-1 defeat against Germany, there is a lot of pressure on the Olympic squad to win the gold medal, to achieve some kind of revenge and to gain the Brazilian football dignity back.
However, one state in Brazil just might be more divided than others prior this final match – the state of Santa Catarina.
|Santa Catarina state in the south of Brazil (Wikimedia©)|
Since the beginning of the 19th century, waves of European immigrants are coming to Brazil, and in the case of Santa Catarina it reflects as the vast majority of the population is descendants of European settlers. Moreover, people of German and Austrian descent make up the largest ethnic group among the population of Santa Catarina, at around 45% - with a considerable portion still speaking the German language. In the city of Blumenau the German influence is so strong that they even celebrate the Oktoberfest of Blumenau, a traditional beer festival originated from Germany. In all of Brazil there are more than 5 million people of German descent, and they are the second biggest community outside of Germany (the biggest is in the U.S).
Santa Catarina is also the state with the best social indicators in Latin America, and the German immigration just might have something to do with it. Besides being the Brazilian state with the highest levels of income, education and public health, and one of the lowest rates of illiteracy. Santa Catarina boasts Brazil's highest average life expectancy and lowest homicide rate in addition to lower levels of corruption. The cities of the state are also considered some the most livable in the country, enjoying a reputation of being "clean, safe and organized".
|Oktoberfest of Blumenau. A german tradition in Santa Catarina (Marcelo Martins©)|
The German lifestyle and traditions of Santa Catarina is so far not helping very much to the local football clubs. Chapecoense AF is the highest ranked club today from Santa Catarina, when they are located in the 10th position, out of 20 teams, in the Brazilian Serie A. Chapecoense AF's total market value is about 22 million GBP, while the most valuable team in the league, Palmeiras, worth almost 70 Million GPB. Figueirense FC, from the state capital Florianopolis, are currently 17th in the same league. At Serie B, Avai FC, valued only at 10 million GBP, are also having a rough time and they are ranked 15th out of 20. Few spots under Avai stands Joinville EC, who comes from the state's largest city in the state, Joinville, are in 19th position.
|Chapocoense are currently fighting against relegation in Brazilian top flight (ESPN©)|
The German connection to Brazil continues with the donation made by world cup winner Mesut Ozil, who decided to donate is winning bonus and helped funding operations for 11 sick children in Brazil.
This special relationship between the Germans and the Brazilians will stand to the test once again very soon on the football pitch of the Maracanã stadium. No matter how it might end, it is safe to presume that at least half of the people of Santa Catarina will be happy at the end.