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Tite vows to dance through World Cup in celebration of Brazil’s football ‘culture’


If Brazil conquers the world again, it will be like the kings of the dance. If, over the decades, the Selecao have become synonymous with style and exuberance with the ball at their feet, their willingness to express themselves when the ball is in the net has been criticized so far in the World Cup. If Richarlison’s bicycle kick against Serbia is to be the goal of the tournament, Brazil’s goal-scoring quartet against South Korea was made all the more notable for the rehearsed routines that followed, certainly in the midst of one of the most needless controversies involving events in Qatar.

World Cups can be a place where soccer cultures collide. Brazil has tended to win praise, for its aesthetic appeal and entertainment factor, though not from a particularly hot-tempered Irishman whose commentary went global. Roy Keane’s predictable reaction and unsurprisingly scathing verdict was designed for a UK viewer audience, but it made headlines in Brazil. Tite’s message was that his side – and even he – will continue to dance. Keane and other spoilers may be misreading the Brazilian psyche. Certainly the favorites to lift the World Cup don’t think their ability to enjoy goals will derail their attempts to win it or show any disrespect to opponents.

“We dance when a goal is scored because it’s the Brazilian culture,” Tite said. “It’s not disrespectful, that’s how we do things as a culture… we’ll continue to do things our way.”

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His own participation in the celebrations showed a bond with his players. His coaching career, which dates back to 1990, stretches beyond the lives of most of his charges, with the notable exception of pensioner footballers Thiago Silva and Dani Alves, but part of Tite’s skill lies in his ability to to forge ties with those four decades his junior. .

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“I think it’s a connection that I have with a younger generation,” he said. “I am 61 years old and I work with players who are 21 or 22 years old; They could be my grandchildren and I have a connection to them. And if I have to choose between those who know me and those who don’t know me, of course I will choose those who know me and if I have to dance to connect with them, I will continue dancing”.

Tite made the valid point that he has different constituencies. The coach of a soccer-mad country of over 200 million people is automatically overwhelmed by pressure. But, Tite argued, his domestic audience has the necessary understanding of the country’s soccer DNA.

“I am not going to make comments to those who do not know Brazilian history and Brazilian culture and the way of being of each and every one of us, I leave that noise aside. I want my connection to my work, to those I associate with: those are the ones I give my heart to and pay attention to.”

Tite spoke with an awareness that he is part of something bigger; The football heritage of the most successful team in World Cup history extends well beyond any one individual. The managers certainly feel the subplots; Brazil’s teams are usually defined by players, from Pelé to Neymar through Garrincha, Jairzinho, Zico, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Kaká. Some sides are more pragmatic than their predecessors, some blessed with fewer magical talents, and none quite as celebrated as the star-studded collective of 1970, but the threads run through them all.

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“This is not my team, this is the Brazilian team,” Tite said. “The identity of Brazilian soccer is not me. It started a long time ago with desperate communities training kids so they could produce good football even with all the risks that come with it. We face challenges and criticism, but that is the football we believe in.”

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Tite dances with Richarlison and fellow Brazilians


Tite’s side scored just three goals in the group stage before sweeping four before half-time against South Korea. It coincided with the return of Neymar after an injury. Now he could equal Pelé’s record of 77 goals for the Seleção as Brazil, who have lost at the quarterfinal stage in three of the last four World Cups, look to edge Croatia to reach just a second semifinal since their fifth title in 2002. Tite was in charge when they left at this stage in Belgium four years ago, but while he could become the sixth manager to lead them to world glory, the players are more feted than the managers. Rightly so, in his opinion.

“When we paint a picture, the whole picture is the athletes. They are the ones who are portrayed in this painting and we [the coaching staff] They are only participants but the team is the players themselves”, he said. But if the final image is of Brazil dancing to the World Cup, there will be a man in his seventh decade attempting a jig alongside his players. And he won’t apologize for it.

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