Was watching the first weekend of the World Cup and because I happened upon Brazil's first match with the Swiss team, I had two workplace talent observations:
1--Asking Brazilians to complete I-9's would be full of problems, and
2--If you're a soccer player from Brazil and have more than one name, you must suck.
The observations, of course, are due to the trend of Brazilian players to go by one name. No first name/last name, just one name. And because they are from Brazil, the names sound cooler than what most American/England/Swiss players would go by. Here are the lineups for that Brazil/Swiss game, Brazil's on top. Note the lack of first initials (email subscribers click through if you don't see the image below), analysis of the names after the jump:
I figured their was something cultural behind the naming conventions, so I did a little research and found the cleanest description over at USA Today. More on the Brazilian naming conventions:
“Brazilian football is an international advert for the cordiality of Brazilian life because of its players’ names,” British journalist Alex Bellos wrote in his book, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. “Calling someone by their first name is a demonstration of intimacy — calling someone by their nickname more so.”
Formerly a colony of Portugal, Brazil largely uses Portuguese naming conventions, which often gives people four names: their given name - which is often two to include a saint's name and/or a preposition (da, das, do, dos or de); the mother’s last name; and then the father’s last name.
"We don't use the last names," said Lyris Wiedemann, a native of Porto Alegre and currently the coordinator of the Portuguese Language Program at Stanford. "It reflects a trait in the culture that's more personalized. We care about the person, and the person is not the family name. It's who they are."
BUT WAIT. There can be some ego or pop culture involved after all. The article continues:
Other times, it’s simply a nickname that sticks.
Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira de Sousa – known as Hulk – says he enjoyed comic books as a kid and his father began to call him “Hulk.”
As the youngest in his family and group of friends, basketball player Maybyner Rodney Hilário was called "Nene" as a child, Portuguese for "baby." He legally changed his name to Nene in 2003.
Another soccer player, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, is believed to have gotten his nickname “Kaka” because it was as close as his brother could get to saying “Ricardo.”
So be sensitive to the cultural realities when you make fun of the Brazilian players for single names, but feel free to question whether Kaka or Hulk are real names in the 4-word naming convention.
And Kaka, if you ever come to work at my company, you're going to have to produce some ID for the I-9.
As far as my leanings in the USA-free World Cup, viva El Tri.