Ronaldinho

The Nike Jinx?

For decades, superstitious sports fans have lived in fear of their favorite athletes and teams making the Sports Illustrated cover.

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Being Dunga

Anyone nicknamed Dopey-- or as the moniker quite nicely translates into Portuguese, Dunga--will be an easy mark for ridicule. Even Carlos Dunga’s most tender gestures, like wearing attire designed by his daughter to big matches, result in the commentariat doubling over in cruel laughter at his expense. But in this World Cup, he has cut an image that is more villainous than comic. He is cast as the heartless assassin of joga bonito, the mercenary who took a pillow and snuffed the élan out of the Brazilian game.

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In his post about Dunga, Frank notes, “the popular conception of Brazil (the country, as well as the national soccer team) is at odds with its history.” In one way, though, Dunga’s 2010 squad reflects one of the most important trends in modern Brazilian history: the explosion of evangelical Protestantism. As the Washington Post noted a few years ago: “The number of those who identified themselves as evangelicals in national census counts doubled, to more than 26 million people in this country of about 185 million.”   Evangelicals have also risen to prominence in the national team.

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The World Cup is but a couple of weeks away, and, if you are not trembling with anticipation, now is the time to start. There has never been a World Cup like the one about to take place in nine South African cities: For the first time ever, the greatest soccer tournament is being held in Africa.

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