75-year-old dentist Daniel Sbruzzi, from Taubaté, São Paulo, Brazil, has travelled to almost every World Cup that’s taken place in the last 44 years (Spain 1982 is the only one he’s missed).
After travelling to Qatar for his 11th World Cup, Daniel has set a record for the most FIFA World Cup tournaments attended by an individual.
Daniel’s dedication to supporting Brazil’s national team has taken him all around the world. His first World Cup was Argentina 1978, where Daniel decided that the best way to represent his beloved Brazil was to dress as a bride.
More accurately, Daniel was representing his carnival block (groups who organize street parties during carnival time), named “Bloco Vai Quem Quer” (“Whoever wants can go”).
“A trait of Bloco Vai Quem Quer is that men dress up as women during the carnival period and parade in the streets. I try to take the culture from my city around the world.” – Daniel Sbruzzi
Brazil drew their first two games in the 1978 World Cup, scoring just one goal. Their final group-stage game against Austria was a must-win if Brazil were to progress to the second round.
On the day of the match, Daniel – aged 30 at the time - entered the stadium wearing normal clothes and proceeded to find his seat.
The game remained goalless as half time approached, however, in the 40th minute, Roberto Dinamite scored a goal to put Brazil 1-0 up.
“When Roberto scored the goal I couldn’t resist. I went to the bathroom and got dressed as a bride, then returned to the stands,” Daniel said immediately after the match, speaking to a reporter from Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
“I want samba until dawn. This carnival was trapped inside me for several days."
When we caught up with Daniel recently, he went into more detail about the inspiration behind his outfits: “In Argentina I dressed as a bride, but in the other World Cups I created different women’s costumes according to the host country and also the characteristics of the Brazilian team.”
Daniel’s second World Cup was Mexico 1986, where he once again travelled with his carnival block. His hometown newspaper O Taubateano heralded the “frenetic” Bloco Vai Quem Quer as the fans who would “shake the Brazilian crowd.”
Unfortunately, Daniel’s support wasn’t enough as Brazil were knocked out in the quarter-finals by France. To rub salt in the wound, Argentina went on to win yet another World Cup, eight years after winning their first.
At the 1990 Italy World Cup, Brazil were defeated 1-0 in the round of 16 by Argentina, who went on to lose the final against West Germany.
At this point, having been to three World Cups and witnessing Argentina reach the final in all of them, Daniel was perhaps bringing more bad luck than good. However, that was all about to change…
In 1994, Brazil won their fourth World Cup, beating Italy 3-2 on penalties in the final. They also reached the final of France 1998, where they ultimately lost to the hosts.
The next World Cup, Korea Japan 2002, was Daniel’s favourite because it’s where Brazil earned their legendary status as the only five-time champions of the competition. Ronaldo Nazário scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over Germany in the final.
“The best football player that I’ve watched in a World Cup match, without a doubt, was Ronaldo, O Fenômeno” – Daniel Sbruzzi
After the match ended, Daniel struck up a conversation with a journalist who took Daniel to the hotel where the Brazilian team was staying.
“I stayed celebrating with the team until the next morning. It was unforgettable,” he recalled.
"In addition, Korea and Japan were countries that I found very interesting to learn all the customs and culture. I respect East Asian people a lot.”
The World Cup is important to Daniel because it’s an opportunity to “connect the great passions” of his life: watching football and experiencing different countries. What he enjoys most is “the unity of the people.”
Daniel’s least favourite World Cup was 2014’s edition, which took place on his home turf. As the country – and Daniel’s Bloco – prepared for their biggest celebrations to date, nobody could have predicted the amount of heartbreak that Brazilian fans would suffer at this tournament.
Brazil progressed all the way to the semi-finals against Germany, however, star-player Neymar was unavailable as he had been injured in the previous match. The highly-anticipated game ended in disaster for Brazil as Germany scored five goals in the first half and went on to win 7-1.
“I was in the stadium behind the goal and the feeling of losing a World Cup was very sad, especially with the way it happened at home.”
For Daniel, one of his funniest World Cup memories happened at Russia 2018.
Upon entering the stadium to watch Brazil’s opening game against Switzerland, Daniel was stopped and searched by the Russian security team, who were suspicious of his feminine appearance.
“Officials in the monitoring room thought it was funny and laughed a lot,” Daniel recalled. “I also laughed at the impact that dressing in a woman's costume causes in certain situations.”
Unfortunately, in Qatar, Daniel had to end his four-decade long tradition of dressing as a woman, as he wished to respect the host country’s dress code. On the plus side, Daniel managed to put together one of his best costumes yet: an Arabian thawb (white robe) embroidered with flags of all the World Cup host countries he’s been to.
Although Brazil were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup in the quarter-finals, Daniel can be happy in the knowledge that he's achieved his own personal goal of "spreading joy and freedom” at each World Cup he’s been to.
Daniel thinks it’s “very cool” to achieve a Guinness World Records title, but he also hopes to inspire other people to break his record.
“I encourage more people to follow this journey of participating in World Cups and acquiring the knowledge, culture, and atmosphere of unity that the World Cup provides. I really believe that there will be people that, in the future, will break my record.”
Daniel has no intention of stopping here though – he already has plans to attend the 2026 World Cup!
Hosted jointly by Canada, Mexico, and USA, it will be Daniel’s second World Cup in two of these countries. He’ll be hoping that it’s a repeat of USA 1994 – where Brazil lifted the trophy – rather than a repeat of Mexico 1986, where Argentina won.
“I feel how much I represent the fans' passion for World Cups, and I am proud to be Brazilian.” – Daniel Sbruzzi
To see more from Daniel's World Cup adventures, follow him on Instagram @10decopas