Victoria Solbert

international sustainable development professional

The Pride of a Nation…is Another Country’s Team

By vicsolbert | July 13, 2014 | 1 Comment


Shopkeepers display their loyalty.

Driving around Bangladesh, you might become confused as to which continent you are on. Everywhere you look there are flags flying, but most either from Brazil or Argentina. Every once in a while a German on Spanish flag is mixed in, but the predominance of Brazil and Argentina is clear. And they’re not just flags – they become banners. Flags that drape two stories down the sides of buildings, long flags that wrap entire store fronts or line the highway. It seems like it is a competition to see who has the biggest flag! And if you look very closely you might notice attached to the top of the large flag poles is a small flag of the country of Bangladesh.

The people of Bangladesh are obsessed with the football (ie soccer) teams from Brazil and Argentina, and as it is World Cup season they are flying their pride high. I still have not come across an adequate explanation for it is Brazil and Argentina they are obsessed with. It seems to mainly be stories of having watched both teams play in the early 90s, falling in love and sticking with them for life. This makes sense for Brazil, which I’ve heard is the most popular football team in the world, and has continually been among the best.


A section of North Dhaka showing off their pride.

Argentina fans are definitely all about sentimental value however, as this is the first time in over 20 years they have made it to the finals. That’s the kind of relationship it feels like most people have with both teams – they have fond memories of them from when they were kids, or at least younger, or maybe it was their father’s favorite team. It’s a tradition to root for Brazil or Argentina, just like an evergreen tree on Christmas, even if it may not make any logical sense as to why now.

Argentina fans have a why now though! If only the game wasn’t on at 2am local time I would be excited to watch it in town. Even though it will be a very tough match against Germany for the Cup, fans still have something to be proud of, or at least mock their friends about, since Brazil lost so ungraciously to both Germany and the Netherlands. So half the country is in quiet mourning for Brazil’s shame, but the other half (and slight majority so I have been told)  have a chance to really wave their Argentina pride for the first time in decades.


Even in the poorest and most remote areas of Bangladesh, people compete for biggest flag.

Whatever the outcome of today’s game, I am curious to see how long it takes for the flags to come down, and for the footballs to be put away. While it is football fever right now in Bangladesh and all the kids are playing, the game they really care about, is cricket. Once the World Cup is over, my Bangladeshi colleagues inform me, everyone out playing football will put away their balls and bring out the wickets, with the strange sport of cricket to be the sole obsession for another four years until the World Cup rolls around again.







16 July, 2014

Any for anyone reading this after the fact, Argentina did indeed lose. All of my local colleagues came into work the next day sleep deprived and moderately depressed. Still happy they did better than Brazil though.

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