The first weekend of March provided quite a spectacle for FIFA World Cup fans as Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo butted heads with FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke. As reported at ESPN, the turbulence began when general secretary Valcke made a statement on Friday, March 2, regarding his concern over the slow progress at Brazil's various stadiums.
According to a letter of clarification issued by Valcke on Monday, March 5, his remarks were regrettably translated into Portuguese using language much harsher than that of his original remarks, which he delivered in French. These remarks, perceived by Brazilian officials as unwarranted and disrespectful, led Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo to send an official letter to FIFA stating his unwillingness to work with FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke in the future.
I am a relatively new soccer fan, but I do have a great deal of experience with the potential pitfalls awaiting anyone who serves as a translator. I worked for almost a decade as a Spanish translator and linguist, and can recall a number of instances which required a great deal of care. Although it is generally easy to directly translate the basic meaning of a statement, the selection of specific vocabulary can alter the meaning, whether blatantly or through nuance, with devastating effects.
Although I do not envy men such as Aldo Rebelo and Jerome Valcke, who bear much of the responsibility for coordinating one of the world's most demanding sporting events, I believe such conflict does add to the overall excitement for fans who are now watching their teams play friendlies in preparation for the next World Cup qualifying season. As a new guy to the sport, such an event, which displays just how much is at stake and how much pressure rests on those involved, makes me further appreciate the popularity and magnitude of the sport. Unlike many of the other sports I follow, international football is just that - international - with all the accompanying pressure, drama and excitement.
Although I know the chances are stacked monumentally against us, I look forward to the upcoming season when, if everything works perfectly, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann just might help push the USA a little closer to a first-time World Cup victory.
Christopher Brown is a new fan of International Soccer who has loosely followed FIFA over the years but just recently developed a strong attraction to the sport. He is now "fully invested" as a soccer fan and hopes to watch the U.S. become a more dominant challenger.
- Aldo Rebelo