Ever wonder what our nation looks like to folks from afar? Here we look at how a uniquely American story--the kind of news we have trouble explaining even to ourselves--is being told overseas. Want to see a particular topic covered here? Let us know.
Sunday, the U.S. women's soccer team beat Brazil in the quarter-finals for the World Cup. The riveting game was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation time, and ultimately decided on penalty kicks. It was a pretty disappointing result for the Brazilian side, and Brazilian papers noted this: "With missed penalty and own goal, defender becomes Brazil's villain," reports Jornal do Brasil's Dassler Marques of one unlucky player. But strangely, a plurality of Brazilian reports aren't focusing on this player. In fact, they aren't focusing on the Brazilian side at all. Instead, they're focusing on the American side, and, specifically, on the American goalie Hope Solo. Not for her performance: she happens to be pretty.
"The beauty who once again stopped Brazil," runs the headline for Marcelo Alves's story for O Globo. Goalkeepers are, naturally, crucial in close games and shootouts, and Solo's penalty shot block turned heads. Alves refers to Solo as "the beautiful green-eyed goalie who has charmed journalists," and produces a full profile, noting that Solo is the "daughter of a Vietnam War veteran" and "was born on July 30, 1981 in Richland, Washington." Is it normal to publish profiles of hated victors? Here's some more atypical coverage:
"I feel flattered," the goalkeeper said when asked what she thinks of being the muse of the tournament. "But I can not wait to put my game on the field. I want to be remembered by my first game, but it is well to call attention to the sport. We won even more fans. Obviously we have a league that is struggling in America ... and if you bring more attention, this will help"
A Journo do Brasil story helps explain some of this odd reaction to the American win, again with reference to Hope Solo's physical appearance. "The United States goalkeeper, Hope Solo, was definitely one of the reasons for the Brazilian team's departure from the Women's World Cup," asserts the story. "Still, Solo charmed everyone on Twitter, not so much for her talent in goal, but mainly for her beauty. Even the Brazilians could not get angry with the goalie and put the # hashtag goleiraEUAlinda [beautiful American goalie] on #1 Trending Topics in Brazil."
Estadão stands out for its story entirely recapping the game itself (Folha likewise stuck to more traditional coverage). A separate piece noted the excitability of American commentators and that the country is proud of its record:
The hysteria and anxiety of American commentators was in stark contrast to traditional narratives, marked by sobriety. When the United States tied for the second half of extra time, the announcer for ESPN and American commentator screamed as if they were Mexican or Brazilian narrators, much more emotional and emphasizing the word "goal" and saying "unbelievable." In the shootout, Hope Solo, the biggest idol of women's sports in the U.S. now, secured victory in a "plot that even Hollywood could imagine," said the announcer.
As the most popular sport among women, women's football is a matter of pride to Americans, who have won two World Cups and three Olympics. One of the most fanatical fans is the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who may attend the final if the U.S. qualifies.
Heather Horn is fluent in written German and French and proficient in written Arabic. All other languages are muddled through with the help of Google Translate.