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His name is Francisco Sampa.  However, unlike American personalities who are identified by their full name, Brazilians, particularly entertainment and sports personalities are usually recognized by one name only.  One does not have to think for a long period of time for other examples as the names "Pele", "Xuxa", Romario, quickly come to mind.   Although not quite as famous as the others , if you mention the name Sampa in Brazilians circles here in the United States everyone will immediately know who you are talking about. He is a man Brazilians living here speak of with the utmost respect; a modest man of impeccable integregrity who has earned that respect due to his tireless efforts in servicing his community.

He is the owner of  a company named Sampa Productions which has produced events for the Brazilian community for over 12 years. He was originator of a show called Canal Brasil which was the first television news show produced by Brazilians for the Brazilian community living in the United States.

Although he studied law in college while in Brazil,  he ultimately chose journalism as his career. Upon coming to America and being fluent in English and Portuguese, he could have easily assimillated into western society and achieved success as most foreigners do. Instead however, he chose to utilize his education and training in journalism to provide a much needed service to the Brazilian community living here; a community he proudly refers to as "my people".

Thus, with the creation of his television show entitled "Canal Brasil" he sought to provide a link between Brazilians in the U.S. with their homeland.   Although the show was a  huge success it was canceled merely due to a lack of funding.  He worked for RTP Canal Brasil 48 full time as a journalist as well as created yet another show entitled "Radio Sampa Brasil" which was broadcast for four hours every Sunday from 4pm to 8pm.  Today Sampa continues to serve his Brazilian community both as a journalist and in the organization and participation in cultural numerous events. His ultimate goal however is to produce a 24 hour radio program.   

We recently  had rare opportunity to interview Sampa following Brasil's shocking loss to the host nation  France at World Cup 1998. In our exclusive interview below Sampa informed us that many Brasilians believe that the game may not have been decided on the field.  In fact prior to that fateful day July 12, 1998  Sampa taped a program in which he predicted Brazil would not win the final game.  So join us now in our interview below with an extraordinary man simply named "Sampa.".


                                                       - Interview -

Q: How often is your cable television program aired?
A: Everyday from Monday to Saturday at 8:30PM  via various cable companies in New Jersey.

Q: As there are many people all over the world who are interested in soccer in Brasil and other events have you ever considered subtitling your program in different languages?
A: Yes we would like to this this however it is a very expensive thing to do. Our support comes from the local business community. The Brazilian community here is relatively small and they don't have a lot of money to spend on advertising. So although there are thing we would like to do we can't do them at this point do to a lack of financing. You know we have more than 200, 000 Brasilians in Japan. There are and many Brasilians in Italy, Australia and in fact all over  

Q: Where are the largest Brazilian populations situated in the United States?
A: We have a large Brazilian population living in the New England area.  However between Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachussets, and Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey we have approximately 1,000,000 people more or less.

Q: Let's shift the topic now and talk a little about the last World Cup final game. What is you opinion of that match?
A: Well, alot of things are involved in this type of competition, it's not just a sport, it's money, It's  business.  They don't care about Brazilian people's feelings.  People invested money to make the World Cup in France.  I remember before the World Cup, Maradona said something about this. He said the French are going to win. The finals are going to ne between France and Brazil but the French are going to win the cup. Alot of people have said alot of things but I don't know.  You remember the game between Holland and  Brazil.  France and Brazil are totally different thing.  In the game between France and Brazil Dunga was very quiet. Did he lose his tongue?  Then Ronaldinho said he was sick..again I don't know but I have my opinion. I don't think Brazil lost because they wanted to lose... but something happen ..something very bad and something very sad. It's a shame, because people who invested money in the sport only think about money.  It's like boxing. We can't trust anybody anymore. Again, I don't know what happen but alot of Brazilians are upset. If you look at  the game between France and Paraguay, France had a hard time beating Paraguay.  With all due respect to Mr. Carpeggiani and the Paraguayan team, Pasaguay does not have better players than Brazil. France won, but I feel something bad, dirty and sad happened that's for sure.The world will find out sooner or later.

Q: What do you think will happen with the Brazilian team and it's administration?
A: I think there will be a change they have to. But I have all the respect in the world for Mario Zagallo. This man lived in soccer for fifty years. He is a professional. I think he knows more about soccer than anyone in the world. We (Brazilians) have respect for him . He won in '58, '62, '70 and was an assistant in 1994. He lost also, but life is not just about winning, you have to know how to lose. You learn how to win when you lose.

Q: What do you know about the new coach Wanderly Luxemburgo?
A: He's different, young, it will be a change.

Q: Can Wanderly Luxemburgo take Brazil to a fifth World Cup?
A: We have many coaches who can do that. We have 16,000 players. We have the coaches and players to make 10 national teams.

Q: Several months ago we asked coach Luxemburgo why Brasil has such great players can you give us your opinion.?
A: Yes, one of the reasons is that Brazil is a very poor country. Toys in Brazil are very expensive but in many families, the first gift a child receives when he is born is a soccer ball. The gift may come not only from the parent but an aunt or uncle. If the kids don't have a ball they'll use anything a plastic bag. They will put something inside and play in the street. This is one of the reasons why Brasilians play well, they play when they are very young.  Even here in Newark, in the summer there are some Brazilian and Portuguese kids who play soccer in the street from 11 o'clock at night till 3 o'clock in the morning every night.  Don't get me wrong, Brasilians play other sports such as baseball. In fact we beat Japan in baseball, but our favorite sport is soccer. Another thing is that soccer is a democratic sport. For example who plays golf? people with money. Who plays tennis and races cars ?  Again, people with money. But soccer is a sport where everybody can play.  You need a golf course to play golf but with soccer you can play anywhere even in the street.

Q: Will soccer ever really grow in America?
A: Soccer has already grown alot and it will become a very popular sport here twenty years from now. For instance, your father never took you to see a soccer game, but now the fathers are doing this. These (American)  kids are being raised on soccer. I think that It will take two generations more. It may never be the number one sport but it should be in the top five.

Q: Returning to the previous topic, is it your belief that this World Cup was not won on the grass?
A: It's hard to believe that, but I do. I had a funny feeling. Even on my show Brazil Update Esportivo which was taped eight months ago I upset alot of Brasilians when I said that Brasil was not going to be the champion.  I believe in my feelings, and I know that something was decided outside of the field.

Q: How do you think Ronaldinho will be remembered in time?
A: Ronaldinho is a young boy. It was a very bad experience for him. He's a good player but I don't believe he is as good as people say. He is just another product. And people invested money in this product so you have to keep this product (in the public) and say it is the best product you can have. You gotta have this product. Buy this product. If you don't have this product your going to die. This is the best one .. get so on. I think Ronaldinho is good but I think he is more a product of the media. I think people invested money to put Ronaldinho in that position. When he plays on the team in Spain the team gives the ball to him, but when he plays on the Brazilian National Team everyone wants to make a goal. No one gives the ball to him, as a result he has to work harder.

Q: What about the convulsions. He  (Ronaldinho) said he didn't have convulsions and they said he did. What do you believe?
A: I don't believe he had convulsions. Dr. Lido Toledo is a very smart man. I've read alot about convulsions. People who have had convulsions have to stay relaxed for about 2-3 hours, maybe a whole day. How can you put somebody who has had convulsions into such a tough game,  a finals. What if he died on the field.  He's not going take such a risk and you can't play with people's lives.  Also, before the game started Edmundo was listed to play and then they removed him from the list. Something going on. Something happened very bad...dirty...and sad.

Q: Do you have any final comments for our readers?
A: Yes, I love my (Brazilian) community and we love each other. We laugh together, cry together and this is the way it should be. I feel that without my Brazilian community I am nothing. 

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