L'AQUILA, ITALY — Brazilian President Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, nicknamed "Lula," took some time during his meeting with President Obama Thursday morning to razz him about his country's defeat of the U.S. in last months Confederation Cup soccer match.
Chatting with the president in Portuguese, in remarks overheard by reporters, Lula spoke enthusiastically about the match, repeatedly using President Obama's catch phrase "Yes we can."
The underdog U.S. squad shocked the soccer world by opening up a 2-0 lead in the first half of the June 28 match in Johannesburg, South Africa, but the scorching Brazilian offense came alive after the break and got on the board with a goal just one minute into the second half. Brazil rallied and found the back of the net two more times en route to a 3-2 victory, crushing the American hopes for the upset win, which would have been the most significant US soccer victory ever.
(You can re-live the highlights at our sister network EPSN HERE.)
Lula even presented President Obama with a soccer jersey signed by the team – the #5 jersey of Felipe Melo, a defensive midfielder who also plays for Fiorentina in the Italian League. .
"Hey, look at this," the president said. "Beautiful. Alright, wonderful. I like that."
Later, the president gave his take on the loss.*
“You know I was a little frustrated, but Brazil's a pretty good team," the president later told reporters. "I told them we're not gonna give up a 2 goal lead."
“It actually was a pretty light moment," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "When we sort of thought everyone was kind of done with their points, the president said, 'I just have one more thing to say.'"
Lula put back on his earpiece for simultaneous translation and President Obama said the US would never fall behind in such a way again, "and he hit the microphone and walked away. So it was kind of fun. And Lula started laughing. So it was good. No hard feelings."
Gibbs added, however, that he "could sense some relief on the Brazilian president’s part that he wasn’t meeting with the President of the United States having lost to him in soccer."
Gibbs, who played goalie for North Carolina State, said that he jokingly offered to take the jersey. A White House staffer is researching who normally wears #5. "My sense is it probably is a defender, given the normal order of things," Gibbs said.
President Obama played soccer as a boy growing up in Indonesia.
Lula and President Obama have ribbed each other before. In April at the G-20 meeting in London,
President Obama said as Lula approached him, "love this guy. He's the most popular politician on earth. It's because of his good looks." Lula, it should be noted, was hardly the George Clooney of the G-20.
– Jake Tapper and Karen Travers
* Updated with quote from President Obama.