VINOTINTO The nickname of the Venezuela National Football team literally translates to “wine-color.” The team wears burgundy uniforms, but I think “wine-color” is a more appropriate name for the unis because if you are a fan of Venezuelan football, you have spent a lot of your life drinking alcohol. They have always sucked. Never qualifying for the World Cup, Venezuela is historically the worst team in South America. In fact, unlike every other country in South America, football isn’t even number 1 there — that would go to baseball.
Enter the 2011 Copa de America.
It’s been a wild ride. Peru squeaked into the final 8, was thoroughly over-matched by Columbia and somehow managed to win. Favorite and host Argentina struggled from the get-go and lost in the quarters to its little brother, Uruguay. Brazil, who almost always wins this thing and happens to be the greatest footballing nation on the planet, lost in the quarters in a penalty shootout with Paraguay. And most surprising, Venezuela made history by advancing to the semis, beating heavily-favored Chile.
What is going on?
The final four in South America does not include Brazil or Argentina, the perennial favorites, nor Columbia and Chile, the two teams having the best tournament. At this point Uruguay becomes the favorite by default, but who knows what will happen. I feel like I’m about to watch the NBA Western Conference Finals with the Warriors and Clippers squaring off. Venezuela’s run has been particularly surprising, especially when they capped the group stage by scoring two goals in the last five minutes to earn a 3-3 draw with Paraguay.
Having lived in Venezuela, I can tell you the Venezolanos are proud of their beauty queens and baseball stars, but they know better than to brag about football. But who knows, that might be changing now. If this keeps up, the Venezuelans might be drinking alcohol for a different reason, as celebrations may be in order.
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