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Why Brazilians Soccer Players Has No Last Name…

by Naeem Ismat (Guest Contributor)  |   July, 2006

Welcome back and thanks for all the emails to the editor.

Today, Germany wept bitter tears over the 0-2 loss to Italy at the FIFA World Cup but took heart in the host nation's surprisingly lengthy involvement.

On the other hand Brazil left Germany licking their wounds when France stuns champ Brazil. Also one of the popular numerology over emails/Internet predicting the fifa world cup winner did not work :-(

Brazil had awesome football players like Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Robinho and Kaka in this 2006 FIFA World Cup tourney. Brazil lost their World Cup title because of failing to score a single goal to their disappointing 1-0 loss to France. Poor performance.......

I noticed another interesting thing that all of Brazil team seems to have no last names at all. You can see on fifa team listing, even their jerseys and official stat sheets display only their first names. Then I searched on it and found some interesting informtion on Slate and some other web sites....

So why do so many Brazilian football players go by one name?

Seventeen of the 23 players on Brazil's current World Cup squad go by a single name. In Brazilian society, the use of a first name or nickname is a mark of intimacy. It’s also often a class signifier. There are no hard and fast rules, but naming conventions reflect the Brazilian adoration for goal-scorers and their relatively diminished affection for the players defending their own end.

Players with the same first name often change their moniker to differentiate themselves.

In recent decades, there have been several Ronaldos at the national level. One became known as Ronaldao, meaning "big Ronaldo." Another became Ronaldinho, meaning "little Ronaldo." When another Ronaldinho came along in the late 1990s, he was called Ronaldinho Gaucho—that is, "little Ronaldo from Rio Grande do Sul." Eventually, the first Ronaldo left the Brazilian national squad, so Ronaldinho became Ronaldo. Ronaldinho Gaucho became Ronaldinho :-)

Interestingly three other nations in this year's World Cup feature lots of players known by only one name.
  • Portugal, Brazil's former colonial overseer, has 10.

  • Portugal's neighbor Spain has six players known by a single moniker.

  • Angola, another former Portuguese colony, has 16.

  • Now match # 62 will decide who will compete with Italy in mach # 64 – Final.

    Until next time,

    Naeem Ismat

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