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Brazilians give thanks today – for their team’s World Cup opener


RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but it’s actually a national holiday here this year. School, banks and government offices closed early Thursday, and just about everyone was off work unless they were serving beer or frying something. The national team was back in action.

Fans emerged from bars onto the streets of Rio’s beachfront Copacabana district on Thursday afternoon. Most people wore the national team’s iconic yellow jerseys, but this year there was a lot more blue in the mix. Indeed, the yellow shirts have become something of a uniform for the supporters of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, and many on the left have started wearing the team’s alternate blue shirt in response.

The shirt is not the only thing that has become politicized. Brazil star player Neymar was one of Bolsonaro’s most vocal supporters ahead of last month’s election, which Bolsonaro lost. Neymar even promised to pay tribute to Bolsonaro after his first World Cup goal, although such political statements are prohibited.

“That’s wrong. The team doesn’t belong to any political party,” said Fabrício Neves, 42, an offshore oil technician standing outside a bar wearing a blue Romarío shirt from the 1994 Brazil championship team. We are going through a lot of difficulties here, and the national team brings us a bit of joy for a little while.”

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