Political football: how Brazil’s military hijacked the beautiful game

Brazil
“As five-time World Cup champion, the Brazilian national team has become known the world over not just for winning, but for winning with a joyous panache that has become synonymous with the beautiful game. However, behind every one of Ronaldinho’s toothy grins and camouflaged by the color-shocked mohawk clinging to Neymar’s head lies an intensely complicated relationship between nation and sport.” World Soccer

“Brazil is a country commonly associated with the highest level of soccer. The world has grown used to Brazil winning, but the Brazilians themselves seem to have an insatiable appetite for world football dominance. Their nation has produced soccer players that have come to represent spontaneity, creativity and skill on the playing field. The bandy-legged Garincha, a walking paradox, the goal scoring machines Friedenreich and Ronaldo, the modern hope Kaká, and, of course, the eternally great Pelé – all these players have left their indelible marks on football’s canon.” Soccer Politics

Zero Dark Thirteen – Brazilian football wallows in the mire of corruption
“If the 2014 World Cup is to signal the arrival of Brazilian football’s brave new world, a desperately needed fresh start for the game in a country where on-field majesty is usually matched by administrative skulduggery, it can’t come soon enough. The year is not yet four months old but it feels, to misquote autocratic former president Getúlio Vargas, as though Brazilian football is standing in a sea of mud. Worse, it often appears as though chaos has become the norm.” Independent

Socrates and the Corinthians’ Democracy
“As the global sporting world faces one corruption scandal after another, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. Football Rebels looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines.” Aljazeera (Video)

All the President’s Torturers
“Chosen to host both the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games and with abundant natural resources and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, one way or another Brazil is set to become a major player in the affairs of the 21st century. With an ambitious, progressive government, a population of around 193 million, now well established federal democratic structures and apparent political stability, many even see it as a global superpower in the making, perhaps even deserving of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the not too distant future. But its solid international reputation has not always been so glossy.” Aljazeera (Video)

The Copa Libertadores and differing stories for Ronaldinho and Riquelme
“The Copa Libertadores this season has been the story of two brilliant players in the twilights of their careers: one having immense fun as though he can’t quite believe he’s still getting away with it, the other grumpily raging against his waning powers. For Ronaldinho and Atlético Mineiro, this has been, so far, a tournament of glee, of great goals and big wins; for Juan Román Riquelme and Boca Juniors, it has been all about suffering. Both will be in the last 16, but their journeys could hardly have been more different. It’s also been the story of the continuing development of Ecuadorean football.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Neymar! Reducing Brazil’s Football ‘Trade Surplus’
“It’s time for another sporting feature since we haven’t had one for quite some time now. Fortunately, there’s interesting stuff courtesy of TIME Magazine about the changing complexion of ‘the beautiful game.’ Even if the Brazilian economy has cooled off markedly in recent times, it has had a strong run-up and most folks remain optimistic about its economy’s future. Contrast its fate with that of the European football powerhouses that traditionally import South American players in droves–especially Portugal, Spain,and the United Kingdom–and you begin to understand the reduced “trade surplus” of Brazil sending away its best footballers time and again…” International Political Economy Zone

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