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Primer on Brazilian Futebolese as World Cup Language

Luiz Felipe Scolari
Brazil’s 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is known as “Felipão,” or Big Phil. Photographer: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

(Corrects to remove reference to “big” under Seleção section in story that moved yesterday. See BRKT <GO> for Bloomberg World Cup bracket.)

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- Here’s what you need to know about Brazilian soccer’s lexicon before the month-long World Cup starts on June 12:

* HULK: Like Pélé, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, hardly any Brazilian player goes by his surname. Most use a nickname, or first name. Brazil’s roster includes Hulk -- he looks a bit like the Incredible Hulk -- Jo and Fred. In Brazil’s first game in 1914, a player known as “Formiga,” or ant, was on the team, according to “Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life,” by Alex Bellos.

* FELIPÃO: Brazilian players often have diminutives or augmentatives added to their given names. Hence, Brazil’s 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is known as “Felipão,” or Big Phil, and skinny midfielder Fernando Luiz Roza goes by Fernandinho, or Little Fernando.

* SELEÇÃO: Brazil’s national team is universally known as the Selecão, or the selection.

* CRAQUE: A standout player. Brazil’s main one is Neymar, a playmaker who FC Barcelona last year agreed to pay a 40 million euro ($54.5 million) signing-on fee.


* GOL/GOLAÇO/GOLEADA: A gol is a goal; a golaco is an outstanding goal and a goleada is when a team beats another by a margin of three scores or more. Brazilian TV and radio commentators also use: gooooooooooooooool.

* GINGA: panache. Mané Garrincha, a world champion with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, had plenty of ginga: He would sometimes fool his opponent into chasing him -- after he’d left the ball behind. Brasilia’s World Cup stadium is named after him.

* SHOW DE BOLA: A stunning play.

* RUMO AO HEXA: On the way to the sixth. Brazil has a record five world titles and some people are already talking about the next one: Carmaker Hyundai Motor Co.’s Brazilian unit has incorporated the word “hexa” into an advertising campaign.

* MARACANAÇO: Brazil doesn’t always win. When it last held the tournament in 1950, it was shocked by Uruguay in the final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium. The defeat is known as the Maracanaço, the big Maracanã upset. This year’s July 13 World Cup final is at the same stadium.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at Jay Beberman

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