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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
England's Brazilian fan
Brazil and England fans have been mixing happily in Tokyo
Brazil and England fans have been mixing happily in Tokyo

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There are 166 million Brazilians in Brazil, almost all are football-crazy and regard their national team with religious awe.

One, however, is more crazy than the rest because she will be supporting England against Brazil on Friday.

Cristiane Neder is a 32-year-old university lecturer who lives in Sao Paulo.

Open Quote
I've always loved England, since I was a child - we can have a nationality by birthplace and another in our hearts
Close Quote
Cristiane Neder

And, in the early hours of Friday morning (Brazil time) she will be cheering on David Beckham, Michael Owen and company, although probably not too loudly.

Neder emailed the BBC to tell us her story.

"I never imagined England and Brazil could face each other in the World Cup, but now I have to make a choice, and the choice is England," she says.

"I won't be able to celebrate a goal. People in my building will get very upset if I do. And my father won't be very happy with me, either."

Neder has been trying to find out where English ex-pats living in Sao Paulo plan to watch the match at 0330 local time.

She is crazy about England, its people and its culture, and the love affair has logically extended to England's national team.

Perhaps inevitably, she supports Manchester United - and Beckham in particular.

Englishman Gareth Goodwin is marrying his Brazilian girlfriend on Friday
Englishman Gareth Goodwin is marrying his Brazilian girlfriend on Friday

She has been to England once, two years ago, and travelled up to Manchester specifically to purchase an official shirt from the club.

"I've always loved England, since I was a child," she says. "We can have a nationality by birthplace and another in our hearts."

Neder particularly enjoys the English sense of humour, their politeness and creativity.

She hopes to return to her "adopted" country again soon.

"It took me 30 years to get to visit England, and now I am going there again. I am already excited about it," she adds.

Her admiration has even inspired her to write poetry about England.

Open Quote
If Brazil win, I will be sad - if England win, everybody will be angry with me
Close Quote
Cristiane Neder

"I have a book of poems about England, and it has already been published," she says.

Many Brazilians are pretty well disposed towards England, but almost none have dared to "change sides" - particularly as their national team is so cherished.

Previously Neder says some of her students appear to have tolerated - if not exactly understood - her obsession.

"When England beat Brazil's bitter rivals Argentina in the group stages, my students congratulated me. They wrote 'Long live Beckham' on the board," she says.

But now such broadmindedness has vanished and everything has changed. She sees herself in a lose-lose situation.

"If Brazil win, I will be sad, if England win, everybody will be angry with me," she says, resigned to a very difficult 24 hours indeed.


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