Pagode is a Brazilian party where samba is played, usually enjoyed by boleiros—what football players and enthusiasts are called in Brazil. FIFA likes the word too, and decided to include "pagode" in the list of terms registered for the World Cup 2014. Not surprisingly, the reaction was negative.
For most Brazilians, the word should belong to the people, not to a global entity. Add to the mix all the protests that are taking place in the country and we have a great deal of apprehension regarding the legal action.
On the other hand, the controversy over FIFA’s decision amounts to a misunderstanding: “pagode” is the name of the official typography or font used in the event.
FIFA, also troubled by alleged corruption charges concerning the 2022 World Cup, clarified the matter by stating, “It is not our intention to prevent anyone from using the word 'pagode,' unless it is used to name a typography or if the word is used to associate a particular firm, commercial or ad to the World Cup.”
Nonetheless, the word “pagode” belongs to FIFA until December 31, 2014. Likewise, all the Brazil 2014 host city names were also registered by the organization, along with about 200 other words including football terms like “fair play.”
Another unfortunate coincidence involved its registration of the word “Natal.” While it is a hosting city name, “Natal” also means "Christmas" in Portuguese, so the reaction was, understandably, indignant: “Now they want to register our Christmas?”
Undoubtedly, registering at INPI (the National Institute of Industrial Property) is essential. It legally secures a brand and protects organizations against plagiarism and other opportunistic actions. Yet, the process was mishandled by FIFA, to say the least.
The organization could have been more clear and diplomatic from the start—especially because this year's World Cup has been a very delicate subject for Brazilians.
The start of the World Cup is still a few days away, and, as far as we can see, the “pagode” is just beginning.
—Fernando Andreazi, Carolina Cernev and Adriano Alves are part of the team covering the World Cup on the Interbrand São Paulo blog. For more on FIFA's woes, watch Interbrand Global CEO Jez Frampton on CNN, and don't miss Best Brazilian Brands 2013.