Disabled Brazilian football fans experience World Cup with unique program

World Today

Heartbreak for Brazilian football fans after their loss to Belgium in the World Cup.

Men, women, young and old and those with special needs all share a deep passion for their team.

CGTN’s Paulo Cabral explains.

Carlinhos Santana was born with Usher Syndrome. He’s been deaf since birth and due to the disease, lost his sight completely by the age of 14 but by then he had already watched a lot of football on TV and in stadiums and was passionate about the game.

For this year’s World Cup, Carlinhos and a group other deaf-blind fans have been able to ‘watch’ the matches through the eyes and ears of interpreters.

“When we bring this kind of information for these people they feel the same emotion millions of Brazilians are feeling. Blind people still can hear the TV or radio and the deaf can see game. But those who are deaf-blind can only follow it with support,” said Renato Rodrigues an interpreter.

In the match against Belgium half a dozen deaf-blind fans and their interpreters gathered in Sao Paulo’s Inclusion Museum to experience the game together.

“This is great because it shows us that the same could be done for other activities, like other sports. The World Cup mobilizes people all over the world. The disabled cannot be left out,” Lara Santana the Programs Coordinator for the Sao Paulo State Secretary for the Disabled said.

The main tool is a tactile board representing the pitch. Two fingers moving as if they were legs walking indicate which team is attacking. And one finger of the other hand shows where the ball is. At the same time a second interpreter uses a tactile language, developed to communicate with the deaf-blind, touching the back of the disabled person to give other information like which player has the ball or to indicate if there’s a foul or an offside, for example.

“I am sad. The match was tough. Belgians were attacking a lot and the Brazilian team didn’t know what to do. I am sad because of the defeat,” said Carlinhos Santana a football fan.

Despite the defeat, this group at least got to celebrate one Brazilian goal.

It may not have the same taste as a victory But for the deaf-blind fans here, just following the match along millions of Brazilians makes this a great World Cup.