SAO PAULO — With “I believe that we will win!” American soccer fans finally have a World Cup chant that doesn’t just involve shouting their country’s name.
In terms of creativity, though, it’s a notch below Argentina’s elaborate sing-alongs or even the boisterous chants of the English.
All players can testify to the goose bump-inducing effect of thousands of fans joining together for a synchronized chant.
While most fans simply spell out the name of their country, from Chile’s “Chi-chi-chi Le-le-le” to Germany’s “Deutschland, Deutschland,” some have developed more creative chants that celebrate their own teams while poking fun at their opponents.
The trick is to be cheeky without being offensive; national team chants are usually less vulgar than those sung by fans of club teams around the world.
Here’s a look at five prominent chants from supporters of World Cup teams in Brazil:
I AM BRAZILIAN
Besides their deafening rendition of the national anthem, Brazilian fans haven’t really used their home-ground advantage to out-sing the opposing fans. One exception is when they join together to sing “I am Brazilian, with a lot of pride and a lot of love.” The song was written 65 years ago by a Brazilian high school teacher for a match between his students and ones from Germany. But the chant has recently fallen into disgrace by fans who judge its lyrics outdated and lacking the rhythmic verve for which Brazilian music is known. At this World Cup, some determined fans handed out cheat sheets ahead of games containing lyrics to proposed alternatives. So far none have caught on.
BRAZIL, HOW DOES IT FEEL?
Argentina, Brazil’s historical rival, clearly has the upper hand when it comes to vocal support from the fans. The Argentine fans have an impressive repertoire of chants and even came up with a new one specifically tailored for the World Cup in Brazil. To a tune that sounds like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the song asks Brazil how it feels “to have daddy in your house.” Something’s lost in the translation from Spanish, but it implies that Argentina is the greater of the two football powers (despite Brazil’s 5-2 edge in World Cup titles). The song recalls Argentine high-points in its rivalry with Brazil, including the goal by Claudio Caniggia that kicked Brazil out of the 1990 World Cup. Like many Argentine chants, it ends with the claim that “Maradona is greater than Pele.”
MEXICO’S GOAL-KICK SLUR
The one-word chant that Mexican fans shout during goal kicks has just one purpose: to taunt the opposing goalkeeper. The two-syllable word literally means male prostitute but has various interpretations in Spanish. After the chant was heard at Mexico’s games in Brazil, FIFA opened a disciplinary case against the Mexican federation, which is responsible for the behavior of its fans inside stadiums. However, the world football body didn’t take any action saying “it is not considered insulting in this specific context.” Annoyed that FIFA even investigated the matter, Mexican fans briefly changed the chant to “Pepsi,” the main competitor of a major World Cup sponsor.
TWO WORLD WARS AND ONE WORLD CUP
Sung to the tune of “Camptown Races,” this English chant references England’s 20th century victories over Germany, and epitomizes the lager-lout chauvinism and cheeky sense of humor that are hallmarks of the country’s chants. It ignores the contributions of England’s allies in both world wars and the fact that England hasn’t won any major title since the 1966 World Cup, but English fans don’t care. Beer cup in hand, they belt out “Two world wars and one World Cup” as if Britannia still ruled the waves, the skies and everything in between. The irony of the song is that the chief reason Germany cannot avenge its defeat in 1966 is that England keeps getting knocked out of World Cups early.
I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
Shouted by fans in various sports in the U.S., this straightforward chant has become the anthem of Americans supporting the U.S. team in Brazil. It’s been promoted by ESPN and the American Outlaws supporters group and has been very loud at the World Cup grounds when the U.S. is playing. The message may be a bit plain, but repeated over and over with a steady rhythm, the chant becomes infectious, particularly when accompanied by samba drums. And it’s given U.S. fans an alternative to the basic “U-S-A, U-S-A” chant.