Brazil's 'German' city finds allegiances frayed
BLUMENAU, Brazil (AP) - In this southern Brazil town populated by descendants of German immigrants, many soccer fans suddenly became even closer to their European roots as they watched Germany dismantle Brazil 7-1 in a World Cup semifinal Tuesday.
"I came here to drink beer and root for Brazil," said Louise Franzoi Muller, who teaches biology at a local university. "But when I saw how badly Brazil was losing, I decided to switch my allegiance and root for Germany! After all, my husband is of German descent and he is extremely happy with the result."
Muller was one of about 2,000 people who packed into the Vila Germanica complex to watch the game on two large TV screens, drink beer and eat typical German dishes like wurst sausages and hackpeter - raw ground pork with onions and spices.
Muller said most people at the special early edition of Oktoberfest seemed resigned to the loss and sad.
"But they are dealing with all that by drinking more beer, which helps them realize that it's no use crying, that life must go on and that Germany played much better and deserved to win," she said.
Vila Germanica's architecture resembles houses in a traditional German village and the shops inside sell beer mugs, handicrafts and traditional German clothing. Every year, it hosts an Oktoberfest that attracts upward of 450,000 people. This year's festival will run from Oct. 6-26.
Blumenau's tourism secretary, Ricardo Stodiek, said the city's Oktoberfest is the globe's second largest - losing out only to the one held in Munich.
German immigrants started arriving in Blumenau in 1850 and today 30 percent of the city's 320,000 residents are of German descent, Stodiek said.
Before the match, Stodiek said that "we in Blumenau attach a lot of value to the culture of our forefathers, but like all good Brazilians we will root for Brazil to win the Cup."
Associated Press writer Ana Pereira reported this story in Blumenau and Stan Lehman reported from Sao Paulo.