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Disdainful Brazilian TV story about World Cup miffs Paraguay (Commentary)

By Maira Magro

During the World Cup, the press often takes on the emotions of the fans and makes fun of rival teams. Humor is part of the game. But the tone Brazilian channel SporTv, owned by Globo, used to refer to Paraguay during the recent game has stunned fans, as the channel insulted the country and its people, rather than focusing on soccer.

Before Paraguay lost to Spain and was eliminated from play, SporTV aired a story trashing Paraguay's culture, currency and even the physical appearance of its people (watch the video). The story said that Paraguay "is a black market paradise" and mentions, with distasteful irony, the "breathtaking scenery," the "haute cuisine," and the "nice and friendly" people of the country.

Newspapers in Asuncion, Paraguay's capital, published the video on their sites and condemned the attitude of the Brazilian channel. "The story was very disappointing, considering all the bonds that unite us as neighboring countries," lamented the newspaper La Nación. Readers from both countries also demonstrated their indignation on the Internet.

In a story criticizing World Cup coverage, Brazilian journalist Luciano Martinas Costa said that "nothing tops, in terms of low-blows, the clumsy attempt at humor committed by the team of channel SporTv." In a commentary, published by the Press Observatory, Costa said the channel was arrogant, even in its apology.

In the United States, another story insulting Paraguay, published on ESPN's website, could be considered worthy of an "Ugly American" prize. If the ranking applies to the entire American continent, then the SporTv story would be a strong contender for the prize.

Read this commentary about the ESPN story by the Knight Center's Dean Graber.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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