SAO PAULO (AP) — The relationship between Brazilian fans and their football teams transcends sports. It's loyalty by history, by blood. It's an association that passes from generation to generation. The son of a Flamengo fan will be a Flamengo fan. And you can bet his son will be a Flamengo fan too.
Brazilians' love for their clubs is unconditional, enduring even hardship. Fans will stick by their teams even more strongly when teams risk being relegated to the second division. It happened time after time to Flamengo supporters when the team struggled, including last year.
"What drives the fans in Brazil is passion, is fantasy, not a good product," Brazil's Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said recently.
That passion starts on rugged dirt fields or hilly city streets where children play and practice and learn the game so deeply identified with their country.
As they grow, football stadiums are where Brazilians let it all out, with nonstop chanting and an incessant party atmosphere.
That goes for lower-division leagues as well, with obscure teams that few abroad have heard of.
Some Brazilians say, only half joking, that few in the nation need therapy — they have a match every weekend to let loose all their emotions.
It's no secret that in Brazil even the national team takes second place to clubs when it comes to the fans' passion. If you ask a fan if he would rather see the "Selecao" win the World Cup that starts here next month or see his club win the national league, many would say they'd prefer their own teams to succeed.
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