“Argentines hate to love Brazil, but Brazilians love to hate Argentina.”

Curitiba Travel Blog

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JB Boonstra

Experiencing both Argentina and Brazil has given me an interesting insight into the rivalry between the two countries. Of course there’s the surface rivalry between each country’s soccer team, but I believe it goes deeper than that. The severe competition between their national soccer teams may be an implementation of other forms of competitiveness that include economic and political undertones.
    Today our resident Argentine, Norberto, was wearing a Ronaldinho jersey, the star of the Brazilian national team. No one questioned his die-hard support of his own national team because of what he was wearing because an Argentine adorning a Brazil jersey is not that uncommon. This fact does not go both ways however. To date, I have yet to see a Brazilian wearing anything that could be even remotely associated with Argentina. In fact, when I went to a party at the university in Florianopolis with Norberto, there was almost a fight on account of his nationality. He wore a shirt that had Argentina in small letters that he had to take off because he was getting so much crap about it from the Brazilian students. Then they brought up the subject of the World Cup and which country had the better team. Luckily, we left before the argument that ensued turned violent, but I believe this provides an interesting insight into the nature of competition between these two countries.
    In Buenos Aires we had a guest speaker come to our class who was a journalist studying this exact subject; the attitude of competition between Argentina and Brazil. Something he said that stood out in mind and statement that I am finding very true is this: “Argentines hate to love Brazil, but Brazilians love to hate Argentina.” The incidents with Norberto and simply the attitude towards Argentines that I’ve seen in Brazil have convinced me of the validity of that statement. Most Argentines will admit that they admire things about the Brazilian team. They often compliment the Brazilian players and the Brazilian style of play. In fact, Argentines will say almost anything good about Brazil, short of saying they like them more than the Argentine team or that Péle was better than Maradona. Brazilians, on the other hand, seemingly take pleasure in hating everything Argentina. Not one Brazilian that I have talked to has offered any type of compliment about the Argentine soccer team. I was talking with our professor, Dr. Bowman about this fact the other day and he provided an interesting idea. Dr. Bowman suggested that the reason for the odd nature of competition between these two countries had very little to do with the actual soccer teams and much more to do with politics and economics.
    Except for the recent economic crisis in 2001, Argentina has outperformed Brazil in almost every aspect of economic progression. For example, Argentina has a higher average standard of living and a much smaller gap between upper and lower classes than Brazil does. Argentina has is higher on the Human Index Scale than Brazil is. Argentina’s economic growth each year is usually higher than Brazil’s. Also, most scholars would agree that Argentina possess the superior government of the two countries. Though Argentina has definitely had its fair share of problems and utter failures of democracy, the Argentine government is now believed to be very stable and comparable to many strong democracies around the world. Plus, Argentines are constantly seeking to improve their system. Brazil, comparatively, is working through its many governmental problems. Though most Brazilians also seek to improve their government, they are hindered from making any significant improvements because of numerous flawed systems and procedures in the Brazilian government, such as the infamous electoral system. Brazil also has a major problem with corruption. Though Argentina has this problem as well, Brazil's is even worse. I submit that these facts are the reason for the strange dynamics of competition between Brazil and Argentina. Brazil feels inferior to Argentina in a number of ways because of their political and economic shortcomings. This makes Brazilians insecure and caused them to search for something that they have that is better than what Argentina has. Since Argentina has the upper hand politically and economically, Brazilians turn to the next most important thing in Latin American culture: soccer. Brazilians refuse to allow Argentina to take the one last thing that Brazil could possibly have above Argentina. Argentines are comfortable paying lip service to the talents and achievements of the Brazilian team because they are comfortable being compared to Brazil in other areas besides soccer. Brazil feels it has to better at something than Argentina, and soccer is the only area that they come close in. This may sound anti-Brazilian, but anyone can see, when looking at the evidence that Argentina is far ahead of Brazil in most areas of government, economics, and sociality. Who has the better soccer team is up for debate, but that the fact that there exist very different sentiments between Argentina and Brazil is indisputable. The reasons mentioned above are simply one possible explanation to account for these differences in opinion of one country toward the other.

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