Brazil bring colour and a rampaging media

Published: Monday, June 26, 2006, 19:36 [IST]

DORTMUND, June 26 (Reuters) Brazil bring colour, rhthym, panache and exotic fans to the World Cup, all good reasons to make them almost everyone's second favourite team.

They also bring their equally colourful 600-strong media pack.

Rather like a herd of wildebeeste crossing the Serengeti, the Brazilian media descends upon unsuspecting venues, flattening -- and interviewing -- everything in its path.

If their flamboyant behaviour may have caused a stir among the local population at Brazil's training centres in Germany, it was nothing compared to what took place at the pre-World Cup camp in Switzerland.

At the little resort of Weggis, a typically idyllic Swiss village lying on the banks of Lake Lucerne, cows graze peacefully on the hillsides, the streets are normally spotless and orderly, traffic rules are rigorously respected.

Most restaurants are shut by 10 o'clock in the evening.

LOCKED AWAY The players, locked away in a luxury lakeside hotel, were barely noticeable, only emerging for training sessions.

By contrast, the media were impossible to miss.

For two weeks, Weggis's orderly traffic resembled a mini-Rio de Janeiro as hire cars stopped in the middle of the road without warning, ignored zebra crossings and ran roughshod over parking restrictions.

There is probably nothing in the sporting world which can compare to the Brazilian media corps in action.

Globo television sent a 150-team strong-team to Weggis, just to cover practices, and have dispatched the presenters of all four of their daily news programmes to Germany for the World Cup.

Training sessions are broadcast live back home, accompanied by a fever-pitch commentary.

But it is the radio reporters who stand out.

Radio is much bigger than in Europe and even stations from remote cities such as Macapa, which lies on the northern banks of the Amazon river, have sent reporters to Germany to cover such pressing matters as Ronaldinho's latest haircut.

It is common to walk into a hotel lobby and see dozens of radio reporters yelling into their cellphones for hours on end to the bewilderment of the locals.

DAY OUTING With hours of airtime to fill, even the most apparently inane subject can be turned into a 20-minute item -- such as when reporters were given a free trip up Mount Pilatus by the Lucerne tourist board.

With no Brazilian players to talk to at the summit, they filled out their reports by interviewing each other.

The radio pack really come into its own in the so-called mixed zone where players are available to the media after practice sessions or matches.

As the players leave the training pitch, they walk alongside a barrier on the way back to the team bus.

On the other side is the several-hundred strong pack, microphones and even mobile phones at the ready so that the players' comments -- ''I'm happy to be in the team, we respect the opposition, football is a little box of surprises,'' and such like -- are broadcast live back home.

The players handle it all with great patience and many are adept at providing the right answers -- ''right'' meaning ones which do not offend their team-mates, their coach or the opposition.

Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Emerson, Juninho Pernambucano and Cafu are regarded as the most quoteable.

Despite becoming increasingly exasperated at suggestions he is fat, Ronaldo has been prepared to face the media and is never afraid to duck questions.

Ronaldinho, Adriano and Kaka, while co-operative, have reputations for regurgitating the same answers to every question. Ronaldinho, with his ever-present grin, is regarded as the reporters' nightmare as he mumbles into the microphone, still grinning.

REUTERS PM PC1105

 

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