Brazilians take special glee in Super Bowl electrical outage

A partial power outage during the third quarter caused a 34-minute delay in the game during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Brazilians, facing questions about their ability to mount back-to-back World Cup and Olympics games, were gleeful about the NFL's stumble.
(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images / Feb. 3, 2013)

SAO PAULO, Brazil--Brazilians usually have little time for the U.S. version of football, but they can’t stop talking about this year’s Super Bowl. Subjected for years to questions about whether Brazil is prepared to effectively host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, there was more than a little glee as the world’s richest country messed up its most important sporting event.

The 34-minute blackout that marred the second half of the game became the subject of ridicule on social networks and in the local media.

Soccer legend Ronaldo, who has repeatedly stressed that Brazil will be ready for the World Cup, tweeted: “It’s not easy for anyone! #nfl” and then, “It looks like someone from the 49ers threw a cat into the converter... not trying to cause a fight...just giving an opinion” to the delight of his millions of followers.

Brian Winter, chief correspondent for Reuters in Brazil, was more direct: “US definitely not prepared to host World Cup or Olympics,” he tweeted.

South America’s largest nation has powered forward economically over the last decade and will be at the center of the world sports stage after winning the rights to host the world’s two biggest sporting events. But the preparations have often been marked by questions --such as whether the stadiums will be ready on time or transportation infrastructure will be sufficient-- often to the open annoyance of Brazilian authorities who have clashed openly with authorities such as FIFA, international soccer’s governing organization.


“The blackout at the Super Bowl destroys the thesis that everything there [in rich countries in North America or Europe] is all in order. I’m not saying that everything here is fantastically marvelous, but I’m sure the World Cup will be a success,” wrote blogger Luís Augusto Simon.

The blackout, or apagão in Portuguese, took on special significance here since the country experienced a large blackout in 2012, and there had been some rumblings in the local press this year that the country may have been on track for more electricity hiccups after price structures were changed. The government vehemently denied there would be any more blackouts, and one newspaper’s ombudsman issued a partial retraction.

“The Super Bowl ran out of energy and soon someone will blame [Brazilian President] Dilma [Rousseff],” tweeted university professor Ricardo Benevides.

There is a small amount of interest in American football in Brazil, but viewership is tiny. The news of the blackout, however, traveled through media here fast enough for some to coin a new explanation for the acronym NFL in Portuguese: Nos Falta Luz, meaning “we lack light.”


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