By Roy Gachuhi, Content House Senior Writer
Vinicius came to the Casa Publica House on Monday afternoon. We hugged and shook hands warmly, delighted at having met at last. As we sat down, he started telling me that the reason Flamengo won trophies in the 1980s was because referees working in cahoots with TV O Global, that media conglomerate, ensured that they did.
“Can you imagine five Atletico Mineiro players getting sent off in one match against Flamengo!” he raged.
I told him that these days, I am not such an ardent Flamengo fan. Actually, I used to be their supporter a long time ago when Brazilian football was Brazilian football, not like today.
And I liked Flamengo only because Zico played for them. He seemed to appreciate that. I silently lauded my diplomatic acumen while noting that he was quiet on Zico’s greatness unlike his quick acknowledgment – and even slight embellishment – of the prowess of Botafogo’s Jairzinho.
Vinicius is the best fixer you could ever ask for. Very soon after that hearty and pleasurably rough start to our friendship, he scrolled his phone up and down telling me: “This weekend is your last chance to watch a Brazilian football match. When the Olympics begin next weekend, things will change. There will be no matches in Rio and there’s a danger you could find yourself returning home without having watched a match.”
I told him that by Christ, this must not happen. Vinicius told me not to worry. As I write this, we are confirmed for the Botafogo versus Gremio match.
The drinks will be all on me, I bid. Do you know which team I will be screaming for? Is the Pope a Catholic?
Sometimes I am having difficulties believing that this is all coming together. I first loved Brazilian football when Pele was still King. As a high school student, I watched him live at Jamhuri Park as he took Starehe Boys Centre students through their paces.
Since then, I have been enamoured of a legion of their superstars, Neymar being the latest in this aristocracy. And if Luiz’s plans come through, I could yet find myself in the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, home of Corinthians FC, club of the eternally beloved Socrates.
If it’s a dream, don’t wake me up; if it’s a lie, don’t tell me the truth.