If you can’t beat your opponents, insult them. That was The Sunday Age approach ahead of Monday’s highly anticipated Australia v Brazil World Cup match.

Ronaldinho and his countrymen “may seem like nice, happy-go-lucky people”, wrote Carmel Egan, “but tomorrow morning in Munich all bets are off. Here are ten reasons why Brazil must fall to the Socceroos.”

Reasons like the fact that Brazil harboured Nazis, “they’re destroying the planet”, 22% per cent of Brazilians live below the poverty line and neo-Nazis “regularly roam the streets of Sao Paulo looking for street children, punks, homosexuals … to rough up and kill”.

When Brazilian internet newspaper lancenet.com.br caught wind of the story they published a retort, “Australian paper publishes story offending Brazil“. This gave The Age an excuse to publish a further story: “Playful piece drives Brazil nuts“. Well, actually, probably more like “Unfunny piece gets a handful of Brazilians fired up”, but whatever the case, Sunday Age editor Peter Fray was taking it in his stride. “It was meant as a humorous piece to capture the spirit of the game … it was very tongue-in-cheek with elements of dark humour”, he said. “I’m not surprised by the fact that some people have taken it the wrong way.”

Let’s hope Brazil’s response – if they can be bothered to muster one – will be as entertaining as Bild‘s rather vile attack on the Beckhams. The German newspaper recently labelled his children “dwarves”, and described his mother as a “Robbie Williams fan” with a “peasant smile”.

Peter Fray

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