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Brazil—The Country of Football

Summary and Keywords

Football appeared in Brazil in the end of the 19th century, among a favorable environment for the practice of English sports. These sports were initially practiced not professionally by English migrants and young students of Law, Engineering, and Medicine. Fluminense was the first club from Rio de Janeiro, at that time the capital of the country, to be dedicated exclusively to practice football. In the beginning, football represented nobility for the local elite. The social profile of people who attended matches at Fluminense’s field was very near to that of the players, be it for family reasons, friendship, or other motivations. Young women who went there desired to see their distinguished idols, and from this practice many relationships started. While this idyllic image of the past was produced, a historical point of view can notice a decisive enhancement in social segments interested in football. In the decade of 1910, a collective enthusiasm arose for football, mainly due to the fact that it was easy to practice and watch football in any kind of open space. This allowed it to spread out of clubs and the National Team. Far from the spatial and economic restriction of performance arts, football could be practiced and watched freely, in most diverse situations. The clubs’ lack of structure to allocate players and fans contributed in making football a popular game, since they needed to seek public spaces to practice. At this point, the club that opposed to Fluminense has been Flamengo, which until then was not more than a regatta club. When it opened a football department, it practiced in open fields near the beaches. Many passersby started to look out their training and matches, and some of them adopted Flamengo as their club even if not participating of its internal sphere. The players became idols, first in the neighborhood and then in the whole city. This encouraged the talk about football in bars and cafés, with reflections on the increasing number of people to attend matches. Historian Leonardo Pereira says that in a few years football has become a mania. The making of the first national team to dispute friendly matches against England and Argentina has also stimulated football’s repercussion. Noticing public interest over matches with teams from different cities or countries, sports press left its poor attitude about football and began to carefully pay attention to this kind of rivalry and the consequent emotions each fan is able to express for his team, especially the National Team.

Keywords: football, Brazil, world cups, national identity, Brazilian history, FIFA, Gilberto Freyre

In the second half of the 20th century, Brazil was acclaimed by the international sports media as the “country of football.” This acclaim permeated the national imaginary and was the result of a supposed golden age, beginning in 1958, with the Brazil squad winning the FIFA World Cup, in Sweden. Such consecration was consummated twelve years later, in Mexico, in winning the third World Cup in 1970, broadcast worldwide via satellite television, with color images, to several countries around the globe. On this occasion, the Mexican population supported the national team, due to a collective and individual performance of the squad, winning the sympathy of the local population and of many supporters of football in the world.

To celebrate these conquers, from 1958 to 1970, sports journalism’s published articles with literary value, dedicated to players and matches of the National Team, written by Brazilian writers with the quality of Nelson Rodrigues, Mário Filho, and João Saldanha, among others. Such writings contributed to the consecration of this vision of technical superiority of the Brazilian player, recognized abroad as “the beautiful game.”1 The picturesque narratives about the feats of Pelé, Garrincha, and Didi in the international sporting stages brought fame not only to these idols of black and popular origins, worshiped for the acrobatic and versatile performance on the field, but to the Brazilian nation as a whole, seen by the media under the epithet of “the nation that wears football shoes.”

The association between a football-based Brazilianness and the formulation of the national identity became so pervasive in the country that people lost track of how and when the construction of this process began in the discourses of the press and in the collective imagination. While it is not possible to define a ground zero or determine a single date or a founding event, a retrospective analysis aids in understanding the origins of this discourse.

Differently from its crystallization in the “national memory,” the international recognition of Brazilian football started well before the victories in the World Cups of 1958, 1962, and 1970. Moreover, such recognition cannot be attributed exclusively to the national squad, although it had a central catalyst role. The tours of Brazilian clubs in the first half of the 20th century also had a prominent role in this dissemination, thanks to the tours of national teams abroad, especially to Europe, from the 1920s.

The image of a “country of football” is an expression created by Brazilians themselves. At the same time, the term drew on reports and impressions in foreign sports media, in particular segments of the French press of the 1920s and 1930s. Thus, the uniqueness of the Brazilian “style” was built in two directions: from inside to outside the country, but also from the outside into the country. This second movement often ends up disregarded by researchers and will be highlighted in this text.

To this end, the text is structured as follows: in the first part, it focuses on the period from the introduction of football to Brazil at the end of the 19th century, until the mid-1920s. In that decade, Paulistano, a Brazilian amateur club’s European tour, spread abroad an image that was exotic to some extent, concerning the existence of a South American style of play based on dribbling and individuality. This style, according to press reports at the time, emerged because of the dexterous physical techniques, considered malleable and surprising, of the Brazilian athletes.

The second part focuses on 1938, the year of the third edition of the World Cup organized by FIFA, in France. The repercussions of the French media descriptions of the Brazilian team and the live radio broadcast of matches throughout Brazil mobilized the populace. Along with the description of the importance of the tournament in making the national squad celebrated, we observe how sociologist Gilberto Freyre—known for his culturalist theories and valorization of miscegenation in the 1930s—utilizes this competition to develop some expressions that would be associated with the sport’s Brazilianness, particularly “mulatto football” and “art football.”

In the third part, we focus on the three World Cups won by the Brazil squad between 1958 and 1970, when technical superiority combined with the victorious performances and with a period of supremacy in terms of international victories of cups. The “country of football” comes to be seen from a double perspective: first, the emotional adhesion and the extraordinary involvement of the Brazilian population in relation to this sport, and second, the Brazil squad’s technical and tactical capacity to overcome adversaries through unique individual and collective performance. These two factors led some football supporters to recognize not only a national team, but also by extension a young nation, then seen as underdeveloped in economic terms, but with ethnic and aesthetic virtues capable of arousing recognition and identity from other peoples.

Also in the third and last section, to conclude the text, we summarize the participation of the Brazil squad in the following World Cups, up to the performance in the 2014 World Cup. We particularly show that, in the 21st century, due to negative results of the Brazil squad in competitions organized by FIFA, to structural changes of society, and to the phenomenon of globalization, the “country of football” metaphor has gradually been losing centrality in the everyday life of Brazilians and in media discourses.

Accordingly, we contextualize the contemporary scene, seeking to relativize and question the “natural” identification of Brazilians with football, in order to show that this association has become a cliché, a stereotype that contributes little to clarify the wider and more profound understanding of the country’s multifaceted reality.

From the Introduction of Sports in Brazil to the Invention of the “Kings of Football”

Football is a result of the European modernity of the second half of the 19th century, at which time a number of modern sports were codified and disseminated through the world by the British Empire. In Brazil, the practice of football was introduced officially in 1894, thanks to Charles Miller, a São Paulo student of British descent.2 For ten years, Miller had lived in Southampton, England, where he had had contact with the rules and practice of football in the physical and recreational activities at his school. After him, other young people, such as Oscar Cox, who had studied in Lausanne, Switzerland, contributed to the introduction of the game in Rio de Janeiro, then capital of the republic, spreading football and other ball games in schools, clubs, and factories.

These boys, sons of the elite of the young South American republic, organized social clubs dedicated to sports such as horse racing, rowing, cricket, and football. Many of these associations emerged in the communities of immigrants who arrived in massive numbers in the early 20th century. The clubs led to the creation of amateur leagues and to the organization of the first local tournaments. If the club belonging had the mark of distinction, as they constituted select spaces of sociability, excluding most of the population, composed of mestizos and descendants of slaves, the interest in following the game would create the figure of the supporter of clubs, not necessarily their associate, therefore, not a frequenter of their spaces. The legions of club supporters would contribute to making football grow and become a popular sport in the main Brazilian cities already in the late 1910s.3

In the same period, the interstate matches between sports clubs began to be held, interspersed with the championships of each city.4 Paulistano and Fluminense, for example, promoted friendly matches among different amateur teams of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In addition to the rivalries between clubs within cities and from the various states, the Brazilian Sports Confederation (CBD) was created in 1914 to organize Brazil’s participation in international competitions, such as the South American Championship, started in 1916 and including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.

The third edition of this tournament was held in Rio de Janeiro and revealed the popularity achieved by football by 1919. In the final match, nearly 20,000 people overcrowded the Laranjeiras football stadium, of Fluminense, the first club created specifically for the practice of football and known for its elite origins.5 The Brazil squad was then given a standing ovation by the fans, who praised their first national idols, such as goal keeper Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça and striker Arthur Friedenreich, the latter having scored the decisive goal against Uruguay.

The popularization of football became an irreversible reality in the 1920s, changing the amateur status required by the local elite in this early phase. The predilection for it was observed not only in the stands of stadiums, which had increasingly more fans. Football spread through clubs and schools, but also in factories, in the suburbs, and in vacant lots. In fact, players of the popular classes pushed for playing in the main club associations of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, in teams such as Flamengo, Fluminense, São Paulo, and Corinthians. A landmark in the dispute between amateurism versus professionalism was the surprising win of the Carioca Championship of 1923 by Vasco da Gama, a club of Portuguese origin, composed of players who were black and workers, most of them from popular classes.

In this context of increasing clash between the established players (supporters of football being restricted to the more affluent segments) and the emergent athletes (supporters of the inclusion of new social groups in the major sports leagues) came the first tour of a Brazilian amateur club to Europe. This 1925 tour contributed to the formulation of a first image of Brazilian football abroad, providing the first indication of its future international recognition. Because of its importance in the construction of identity, next we focus on the description of this episode, with attention to the reception of the European press to this team of national representatives.

The source to reconstitute this tour is a bibliographic gem, the book Os reis do futebol (The Kings of Football; 1945), written by former player Araken Patusca, a participant in the trip. It tells the saga of the first tour of a Brazilian club to Europe and took place twenty years before the launch of the book, in 1925. The player of Club Atlético Paulistano was a student of Mackenzie high school, then eighteen years old, and recalls in detail the enthusiastic reception to Brazilians on the European continent, with the creation of a legend by the French press: les rois du football.

The decision to tour Europe had been an initiative of the top manager of Paulistano, Antônio da Silva Prado Filho (1880–1955), an affluent descendant of western São Paulo state coffee barons, who would come to be the mayor of Rio de Janeiro federal district during the presidency of Washington Luís, in the late 1920s. The club was one of the most distinguished of the elite of São Paulo at the time and was located in a rich neighborhood of the city. His football team had been one of the most important in the amateur period, winning the São Paulo state championship four times between 1916 and 1919. With the popularization of the game and the adoption of professionalism, the club, bastion of the amateur ethos, decided to terminate its football activities in the 1930s.

After developing the idea of the tour, the patron of the club organized the tour of Paulistano to Europe at the beginning of 1925. Since he was in France, he took care of the arrangements for the tour through telegrams sent directly from Paris. Eight countries vied for the right to host and play against the Brazilians, but only three were selected: France, Switzerland, and Portugal. The journey included a long sea crossing and lasted about three months. For forty-three days, Paulistano played a total of ten matches. Of these, the Brazilians won nine times, with just one defeat and many goals, with only game low scoring, a 1-0 victory over Switzerland the minimum.

There was great media coverage in Brazil. More than a group of young athletes, the club’s squad and entourage received the nickname “the embassy,” as they were seen as representatives of the nation, beyond the players’ responsibilities in the field. The sports delegation assumed a diplomatic character, being composed of representatives of the press, industry, trade, and civil service. Thus, in February 1925, they headed for the port of Santos, where they were greeted festively by the population of the city. According to the newspapers of the time, a crowd of fans watched as they embarked on a long journey aboard, bound for a port in northern France, in the English Channel.

The reception in Paris could not have been more solemn, with a banquet offered by Souza Dantas, Brazilian ambassador, and with the presence of the prince of Orleans e Bragança, son of former Brazilian emperor D. Pedro II. After visiting the “City of Light,” the boys of Paulistano played the first match. The main team featured the idol Friedenreich and other South American champions of 1919 and 1922. The first result could not have been more convincing: 7 to 2 against the French squad.

After playing in the cities of Paris, Sète, Bordeaux, and Le Havre, Paulistano ended the first period in France in Strasbourg, playing against the Alsatian squad and winning 2 to 1. Then the team headed for Switzerland, where, in Bern, they won 2 to 0. Back to Swiss fields, they defeated the Switzerland national squad—the Olympic vice champion of 1924—in Zurich. Paulistano’s delegation returned to France to play in Rouen. On the way back, they headed for Portugal and, before returning to Brazil, visited Lisbon. In the Portuguese capital, Paulistano played its last match in the victorious tour, winning against the Lisbon squad. They arrived in Brazil in May 1925 and were greeted with effusive reception in various ports of the country.

The publication of Os reis do futebol occurred in 1945, twenty years after the trip to Europe. The book was a way to commemorate the event and, at the same time, a way to secure for posterity the pioneering spirit of those young amateur athletes. In the mid-1940s, the context of football was quite different. This sport was already a consolidated professional practice, and the reality was quite diverse from that of the amateurism of the 1920s. In addition, the advent of World War II had interrupted the Brazilian tours to Europe, devastated by genocide, racial intolerance, and the destruction of their cities.

The author of the book, football player Araken Patusca, had quit the fields in 1939, after participating in the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. The book, with 200 pages and photographic illustrations, is both a document and a memorial account. The preservation of the newspapers of the time enabled the footballer-writer to reproduce the tour based on the archives left by the members of the delegation, particularly by sports writers covering the tour period.

One of the aspects that draws the most attention in the book is the enthusiasm of the French press for the performance of the Brazilian players. At that time, other South American teams, such Nacional from Uruguay and Boca Junior from Argentina, were already known in Europe. Moreover, the 1924 Olympics had been held in Paris, with the Uruguayans winning the gold medal in football. Thus, it is surprising the enthusiastic way the France periodicals referred to Brazil as the “kings of football.”

The mentions are numerous and appear in myriad newspapers. One of them, for example, says,

These Brazilians are either naive or jokers. They began offering a handful of flowers with the colors of their Country and then cast a sort of spell, and they ended up beating us with all the rules of art. Although individually they are notable dribblers, the Brazilians do not forget that they work for the group. And, thus, they pass and receive the ball with great speed, practicing, in short, this famous Latin game, which we should adopt if we had as much technique as the visitors… . With different qualities, the Brazilians were, to us, equally terrible opponents thanks to their speed, accuracy, and, especially, personality.6

According to the footballer-writer who transcribes the journalist’s comments,

The impression left in the sports centers of France by the splendid triumph of Paulistano against the French squad was most flattering to our sports clubs. The French capital newspapers comment on the performance of the boys of Clube Atlético Paulistano leaving no doubt that is was really dazzling. The columns of these periodicals reflect, thus, the brilliance of the Brazilian victory, which boldly attested our sports prowess.7

The Brazilian players’ virtuosity is one of the aspects most emphasized by the French sportswriters. From the goalkeeper to the center-forward, all of the team received praise for their performances in an offensive tactical system of 2-3-5. All the athletes were positioned according to their specific skills and attributes. The two strikers, Friedenreich and Patusca, receive the highest praise. Although the first was already known by the nickname “El Tigre,” the latter, author of the book, would be given the nickname “the Danger” by the Parisian press.

As a local journalist recalled,

The years have not had the necessary strength to erase from my memory the demoniac performance presented by two front men of this squad. “El Tigre” and “Le Danger.” The two complemented each other. The first one, skinny, slender, thin, looking like just a mascot, was the brains and the heart of the team. From his energy, his moves, his action always quick, skillful, disconcerting, fulminant, came the dangerous attacks and shoots of the Paulistano. Even the opponent stopped and stared in awe at that mignon player doing whatever he wanted with the big players that we put on the field. The other one was quite a permanent danger. He would shoot towards the goal with any of his feet and his balls seemed to pack dynamite. As young as the guardian, but no less extraordinary. Each figure analyzed allowed the observer to write columns and more columns about the value of this team.8

Thus, reconstituting the charm with which the Brazilian players captivated France, it can be said that they established the basis for the international fame of the talent and technique of Brazil’s footballers. The praise of the “kings of football” in 1925 would correspond, thirteen years later, to their acclaim. In the 1938 France World Cup, the French had not forgotten the “jugglers of the ball.” After all, as a Parisian newspaper stated, “Les brésiliens sont pétits, mais de pétits géants.”9

Mulatto Football: Gilberto Freyre and the 1938 World Cup

Gilberto Freyre (1900–1987) was one of the first Brazilian intellectuals to express considerations on the Brazilian squad, with emphasis on players’ artistic and cultural traits. His interest in football started with the 1938 World Cup, held in France, when the national squad finished in third. Freyre followed the matches that year from his hometown Recife, in northeastern Brazil. Using his academic training in the United States and his literary-philosophical erudition, he created aesthetics and artistic images, capable of explaining the phenomenon of football in European fields. At the time, Freyre used categories from the work of the young Nietzsche to characterize the style of play of the Brazilian athletes.

Regarding the expressions he coined—“mulatto football” and “art football”—it is appropriate to ask: Would not this author have been overwhelmed with exoticism, seeing the country’s footballers as true naïf artists? On what terms can the use of artistic metaphors be accepted to understand the sports phenomenon? Could it be said that football is art or that it just produces moves whose effects resemble the aesthetic appreciation, comparable to a pictorial work? In posing these questions, it is necessary to situate Freyre’s ideas in their respective footballing context—the 1930s—and seek the foundations of their development. They are important for establishing a dialogue that considers valid the association between sport and art.

During the 20th century, the organization of international tournaments by FIFA contributed to Brazil becoming known to the world as “country of football,” in a historical and mythologized way. We must, therefore, separate the myth from history and trace, in a wider perspective, the evolution of this image, which shows the role of the intelligentsia in the construction of the national imagination. Although little is said about it, because the references to football appear in newspapers of the time and in lesser-known books of the writer, the sociologist Gilberto Freyre was one of the main figures responsible for the definition of the modern concept of “Brazilian culture.” He was one of those responsible for the praise of miscegenation and for coining the terms “mulatto football” and “art football.”

Controversially, Freyre’s best-known work, Casa-Grande e Senzala, was published in 1933 and shows the intimate family life of the colonial period. In it, he seeks to demonstrate the importance of racial relations and polygamous sexual relations between whites, blacks, and indigenous people, particularly between the northeastern sugar-mill owners and the slaves of African origin. Instead of a story based on traditional political and economic aspects, Freyre, influenced by anthropologist Franz Boas (who was his professor in the United States), focused on the cultural aspect, rather than on the biological-racial aspect, demonstrating the role of sex, quotidian life, and material culture in the relations of economic domination.

The presence of Freyre in the national imagination can be assessed through his reception outside of Brazil. In the 1950s, the French translation of Casa-Grande e Senzala was made by Roger Bastide, with an introduction by Roland Barthes, and had a preface by Lucien Febvre. This historian published a preface entitled “Brazil, land of history,” a play on words with the book of Bastide, “Brazil, land of contrasts,” and with the famous work of Austrian writer Stephan Sweig: Brazil, Land of the Future. It is also worth noting Freyre’s proximity to the French historian of the second generation of the Annales school, Fernand Braudel, with whom he shared the concept of “material culture.” Freyre was well received in France, whereas in Brazil historians and sociologists at the University of São Paulo considered Masters and Slaves an apologia of “racial democracy” and an ode to the legacy of Portuguese colonization.

In contrast to the colonial experiences of the Spanish, English, and French, Freyre argued, the Portuguese were themselves mestizos at the time Brazil was discovered, a people halfway between North Africa and the rest of Europe. With their racial background lending malleability and capacity to adapt to tropical lands, they mixed with blacks and indigenous peoples and produced a new and unique culture in the New World.

Five years after publishing Casa-grande e senzala, Freyre would stumble upon the transmission of the 1938 World Cup in France, followed by the Brazilian population live in Brazil on the radio with enormous enthusiasm. Despite the team’s third-place finish, the country celebrated the overall performance of the team and particularly that of striker Leonidas da Silva, the top scorer of the competition, known by the nickname “the black marvel.”

While the French press extolled the “savages of the ball,” the return of the delegation to Brazil made the players true national idols, as had happened following the South American tournaments in the 1920s and 1930s.10 Taking into consideration this impact in Europe and Brazil, Gilberto Freyre coined the expression “art football” to characterize the Brazilian way of playing, inspired by a baroque imaginary that comes from its national and cultural history. As we know today, this was a surprising and creative style, based on individuality, dribble, and angular effects of the curve ball on the pitch.

This style was contrasted to that which Freyre considered to be the “scientific football” of Europe, particularly of nations in eastern Europe—Czechoslovakia and Poland, teams against which Brazil played in the World Cup—based on collective work, methodical training, adherence to tactical systems (as in the newly invented WM formation), and on mechanical straight passes. Thus, Freyre, reader of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, employed artistic metaphors and replaced the expression “art for art’s sake,” of Gustave Flaubert, with “game for game’s sake.”

Based on the mythological counterpoint between Apollo and Dionysus, which would appear again in his preface to O negro no futebol brasileiro (Blacks in Brazilian Football), the influential book by journalist Mário Filho, published in 1947, Freyre points out, “It can be said that the characteristically Brazilian feet continue to be, in large parts of the country, the little feet that the mulatto gracefully contrasts with the large feet of the Portuguese, English, black, German. The agile yet delicate feet of the capoeira, of the samba dancer, of the football player for the Brazilian technique, rather Dionysian dance than British Apollonian game.”11

The author used the sport as a sort of laboratory, in which he could demonstrate his thesis on the formation of the Brazilian society. His argument was supported by and could be materialized directly in football. Its originality, therefore, did not refer to the past frozen in historical time, but, above all, to its potential of being updated in the present and projected in the future. The social rise of mulattoes through sports came to be the best example of his theory.

Well, as Freyre said, the ability of Brazilian players observed in the 1938 World Cup can only be explained by directing attention to the origins of a “corporal technique” that comes from African traditions and that in Brazil originated popular dances such as samba and capoeira. This way of playing would have inverted the fundamentals of football, conceived through the disciplinary principles of physical education in England. The disciplined game of British schools would have transitioned from the aspect of ethics—sports pedagogy—to the aspect of aesthetics, with moves that awe and captivate the audiences.

Its transformation into a spectacle can be explained less by body training and more by the mimicry of dancing that originated in Africa and was brought to the field. It was precisely in the 1930s that the unexpected dissemination and popularization of this sport in Brazil took the popular classes from the suburbs to the epicenter of the large clubs and professional football.

In its origin, a sport of “distinction” practiced by foreigners and by students from the wealthiest strata of society, the democratization of the game overcame the social, racial, and economic barriers, if not in concrete terms, at least at the symbolic level, according to Freyre, in the football sphere. However, the metamorphoses of football in Brazil were not just a benevolent concession of local elites and not only a process of resignification of the trendy sport by the popular classes.

They can only be understood in historical terms that are partially related to the dynamics of migration in the 1930s, specifically the so-called oriundi, descendants from Italians, born in Brazil. The preparation for the second World Cup in Italy, in 1934, directly mobilized the attention of the Italian government. Mussolini’s efforts affected South America, with the repatriation of the migrants who played in Brazil. Several members of the Brazil squad, who were from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and of Italian origin, were recruited and played in the “squadra azzurra” in the 1934 World Cup. Thus, traditional and elite clubs in Brazil faced a vacuum in their teams and were partially forced to replace these athletes with players from the popular classes, mestizos, proletarians, or persons of black origin.12

Accordingly, Freyre’s argument gradually becomes for the Brazilians the representation of their miscegenation, whose virtues were evident in the particular way of playing football. Thus, when using the term “art football,” one should pay attention to the genesis and historical context of the expression. This means that, in contrasting artistic football to scientific football, a South American style to a European style, a way of playing that prioritizes the aesthetics to another that advocates competition, a rhetorical strategy underlying this idea is in question.

The underlying idea supports that art is a free and disinterested action, without instrumental or utilitarian purposes, as philosopher Immanuel Kant defined in his Third Critique. Without being restricted to the philosophical plane, its expression penetrated the daily life and the sports sphere, through a practice that—beyond winning—seeks to captivate the audience.13 This reasoning cannot disregard the question: Until 1938, what had Brazil won on an international scale? Nothing significant in the international sphere.

On the other hand, Brazil’s neighbors, the Uruguayans, had already won two Olympics and had won the first World Cup in 1930. Argentina was also seen as more evolved than Brazil, a true model to be followed in technical and tactical terms. Results in international cups left Brazil feeling inferior to Argentina and Uruguay, two countries where immigration and social formation, especially from 1870 to 1920, had contributed to a faster deployment of football.

The only rhetorical trump Brazil had, therefore, as identified by Freyre, was to rely on the technical, ethnic, and aesthetic differences of its racially mixed population. With this, he avoided the result and valued the effects of the black players on the thousands of European spectators that watched them. The relationships between cultural practices and corporal practices do not exist only in Brazil, but in most of the so-called peripheral countries.

In a wider perspective, the Argentinian anthropologist Eduardo Archetti underlines the relationship among music, dance, and sports in different countries of Latin America.14 In the early 20th century, as Europe exported its sports, each South American country established a union between their local musical tradition—tango, samba, salsa—and “the British sport.” That is how Brazilians consecrated the national playing style as a direct consequence of Carnival, resulting from a plasticity of the body. It allows a view and a way of practicing an art football, devised not to win, but to produce effects on the sports audiences.

From the Golden Age to the Crisis of the “Country of Football”

The discursive reasoning behind the “art football,” the basis for the international recognition of the “country of football,” must be understood in the historical framework in which the Brazilian team was far from being victorious regarding gold medals and World Cups won. This condition shows its ambiguous character: on the one hand, it produced a positive feeling, resulting from what could be called a juggling ability to invent individual moves, irrespective of the result; on the other hand, it generated a feeling of inferiority, as occurred with the defeats in the 1950 World Cup, in Brazil, and 1954 World Cup, in Switzerland. With these two defeats, managers and journalists began to refer to a weak collective psychology, which expressed the emotional instability of the Brazilian people, represented by a mixed-race team, unable to act in decisive moments.

The defeat in the 1950 World Cup left marks on the collective imagination. Following World War II, twelve years after the performance in France, Brazil had been chosen as the host country of the fourth edition of the World Cup, organized by the FIFA of Jules Rimet. Given the extraordinary nature of the event, the Brazilian state mobilized and spent resources to build that which would become the world’s largest stadium, the Maracanã, with capacity to hold up to 155,000 spectators. In the competition, after an exciting campaign with impressive victories against Spain and Sweden in the final phase, the Brazilian squad needed only a draw in the last match but was beaten by the Uruguay team, in a comeback, 2 to 1.

The contagious climate of favoritism, previously established, was succeeded by disbelief and sadness among all those involved. At the end of the tournament, the public sought to individualize the alleged “guilt” for the defeat, by choosing scapegoats, responsible for what was considered a failure, an outrage, and a disgrace. In addition to the coach and the managers of CBD, players of black origin, such as goalkeeper Barbosa and defenders Bigode and Juvenal, were the most accused.15 The criticism of these players alleged acts of cowardice, lack of determination, and lack of humility. The questions surpassed the sports sphere and acquired broader dimensions of moral, racial, and social order. Although racism seemed overcome at first, in a country that basked in the myth of “racial democracy,” feelings of inferiority and collective incapacity of the nation as a whole were rekindled, due—among other factors, and according to some authorities comments—to being a country of mixed race.

The ambiguity and skepticism would linger until the late 1950s. It can be said that winning the World Cup of 1958 constituted a kind of redemption. Twenty years after the success of footballers such as Domingos da Guia and Leônidas da Silva—the latter the “inventor of the bicycle kick”—and eight years after the defeat “at home,” a phenomenon capable of redeeming the nation arises: Pelé. The victory against Sweden in 1958, by a group of athletes among whose members stands out a player of black origin just out of adolescence, launches the golden era of the Brazilian football. Its culmination, as stated above, occurs in 1970, with the third championship in Mexico.

The metaphor of artistic language, until then applied to football, would no longer be just disinterested, becoming equally effective and instrumental. The “aesthetic” effect, translated in the popular lingo as “beautiful game,” now resulted not only from the invention of isolated moves, but from joint and coordinated action, from a collective art so to speak, in which the mastery of feints and unusual moves came in conjunction with a series of international achievements.

In 1958, Pelé was only seventeen years old. He shone in the Swedish fields, defeating the Scandinavian hosts in the final, after defeating the teams of France, the Soviet Union, England, Austria, and Wales. The goals by Pelé combined with the feats by wide midfielder Garrincha, an expert dribbler, and by midfielder Didi, known for baffling passes and shots, for example the “dry leaf” free kick. This generation would repeat the feat—a new conquest—four years later in the tournament held in Chile, in 1962. This time, after Pelé’s injury early in the competition, players such as Garrincha and Amarildo stood out in the second championship. The latter came to be called “the possessed” by the press and was praised especially in the match against Spain, scoring goals and coordinating the play from midfield to attack.

Of this generation, only Pelé would participate in the World Cup of 1970. Zagalo, his teammate in the 1958 World Cup, twelve years later worked as coach of the Brazil squad in Mexico. They were joined by Tostão, Gerson, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Piazza, Carlos Alberto Torres, and a host of other superstars who showed integration and exuberance in the field. Although individual skill was most emphasized by sports commentators, this team was a tightly knit group and was characterized on the field by excellent collective work. This also resulted from the organization of a technical commission that stood out due to the modernization of the scientific standards of the athletes’ preparation.16

The physique and muscular build were developed in the preparations, which followed innovative methods of physical education introduced by Cláudio Coutinho—trained in the United States—and by other members of the technical commission. The preparation for the matches at high altitudes was one of the successful strategies adopted by the delegation. Thanks to TV coverage recording the matches in color, several memorable moves of that tournament have been replayed since, contributing to the acclaim of one of the most internationally prestigious moments of the Brazil squad, in the wake of winning the third championship. In the late 1960s, Brazil was in the midst of the civil-military dictatorship; nevertheless, even in these dark times of censorship and torture carried out by the state’s repression apparatus, the population took to the streets to celebrate the championship in Mexico.

After this generation of players retired, Brazil would go over twenty-four years—that is, six editions of the FIFA tournament—without winning another World Cup. The squad that composed the team in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, which included players of the quality of Zico, Sócrates, Falcão, Junior, and Cerezo, among others, even managed to captivate the Brazilians and all fans of the “beautiful game.” However, admiration for the players did not correspond to victories, and the expected results did not come. With the successive changes of technical management, since the 1990 World Cup, the country’s characteristic play style was changed. Until then considered offensive, based on surprise and individual skill, the team now adopted a more pragmatic, defensive playing style. At the same technical level of the others, the emphasis was then based on marking, speed, and physical conditioning.

This strategy worked out and led to the championship in 1994, in the United States World Cup, highlighting players such as goalkeeper Taffarel, midfielder Dunga, and attackers Romário and Bebeto. Still, the victory was questioned by part of the local population and press, who deplored the lack of showy football capable of delighting the public. Amid these criticisms, the export of Brazilian players to the European market from the mid-1990s compromised even more seriously the fans’ relationship with the Brazil football team, since the national idols no longer played in the clubs of Brazil. Such detachment was apparent during the 1998 World Cup, when a defeat 3 to 0 against the France team and finishing in second disappointed the expectations of the most demanding fans.

In the early 21st century, glimpses of beautiful moves and convincing performances in the field, such as those that culminated in the fifth championship in the 2002 World Cup, played in Japan and South Korea, momentarily resolved this crisis of identification of the Brazilian society with the national team. The talents of Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo, among others, contributed to winning the fifth and unprecedented championship in the Asian continent. Nevertheless, with the exception of the quadrennial competitions, interest in the national team has declined since then among the followers of Brazilian football. The lack of interest has intensified with each new defeat or elimination, as occurred in 2006, in the Germany World Cup, and in 2010, in the South Africa World Cup.

The sporting mega-events held in Brazil in 2014, with the twentieth edition of the FIFA World Cup, and in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, with the thirty-first edition of the Olympic Games, were responsible, in principle, for rekindling the population’s interest in football and in sports in general. The situation in the first decade of the twenty-first century seemed to favor the country, which underwent a period of political stability, economic growth, and social inclusion that were quite promising.17 However, what was seen in the years before the preparations for the 2014 World Cup did not prove promising. Despite a supposed legacy, the impositions of FIFA and the highly elevated costs to the country in the provision of urban infrastructure and sports equipment eventually frustrated the most optimistic assessments, according to which the mega-events represented an extraordinary opportunity to position and project the country in the world.

While much of the population reacted with apathy to the preparation for the international tournament, to be held for the second time in Brazil, organized movements vehemently repudiated government spending on construction and reform of arenas. FIFA’s demands for the host country were seen as abusive and disproportionate. In light of this, social movements promoted demonstrations against the mega-events already in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and there were widespread clashes on the streets of the country and in the vicinity of stadiums.18 In the midst of a period of turbulence and instabilities that the country underwent since the so-called June Days—a wave of popular dissatisfaction and protests against public services, corruption, and the Brazilian government—the World Cup was held without major organizational disturbances, as feared before its start.

However, if the organization of the World Cup turned unfolded without major problems, in the field, the Brazilian squad’s performance was far from the expected. The presence of Neymar and of some athletes that played in major European clubs was not enough to prevent a mediocre performance, resulting in the team finishing fourth in the tournament. It is true that many thought they could redeem the 1950 defeat at Maracanã, also known as Maracanazo, but the surprise with the match in the semi-finals, against the German squad, turned out to be even more embarrassing. The team’s mortifying 7-1 defeat against Germany, since then designated as Mineirazo— in reference to the Mineirão Stadium, stage of the match—was perceived as one of the most humiliating in the history of football. This occurred due to at least two aspects: the unexpected and atypical circumstances of the dynamics of the match, and the fact that the heavy defeat was suffered by the World Cup host, the self-proclaimed “country of football.”

World Cups have the magic power of creating successive narratives that are renewed every four years. Based on them, the sports press and public opinion build their versions focused on the Brazil squad, mainstay for the international image of the Brazilian football. With structural and contextual differences, they alternate according to the periods of success and failure in performances and results in the field. The metaphor “country of football,” used recurrently from 1970, has proved resilient over time, even after setbacks and the loss of its centrality, in view of a different relationship with the fans and in the context of a new configuration of the economics of spectacularized sport in the 21st century.

As historian Hilário Franco Junior has argued, the statistical figures do not support what the vainglorious nationalist mythology would like to proclaim.19 Brazil is far from being the country with the most football aficionados, whether in terms of the mean television audience, the frequency of public in stadiums, the sale of sports periodicals, the economic strength of clubs, or other comparative indicators. Therefore, the fairest thing is to recognize that Brazil is still a country that produces excellent and countless footballers, revealing new talents each season. That does not mean, however, that it is the “country of football,” in a full and wider sense of the term. These days, the expression only reiterates a stereotype, a caricature, which explains very little about the complexities of contemporary Brazil.

Discussion of the Literature

A discussion of the literature on football in Brazil, before and after the institutionalization of the field of sports studies, whether in physical education or social science, reveals the constant production of texts on the subject written by academics.

Some examples of authors worthy of mention are listed below, in a diachronic yet not exhaustive approach. Attention is given, albeit not exclusively, to professors and researchers linked to University of São Paulo, one of the mainstays of research canon in social science, to illustrate how the university environment remained exposed to essay writing amid the increasing institutionalization and specialization of research.

As early as the 1950s, the German immigrant Anatol Rosenfeld (2007), a future drama professor at ECA/USP, wrote a study on the importance of football in Brazil. Running to a little over thirty pages, the text introduced to the German-speaking public, through the Hans Jahrbuch yearbook, historical, economic, and psychosocial aspects of the practice of football in Brazil in the mid-20th century.

More than just an introduction to foreign readers, the essay dialogues with the work of the journalist Mario Filho, author of the famous book O negro no futebol brasileiro (Blacks in Brazilian Football—1947). In this dialogue, Rosenfeld criticizes Filho’s assumption that the economic ascension of blacks through football implied social recognition. The author of German origin sought to refute the idea of a metaphorical overcoming of racism in Brazilian society, as assumed by the culturalist trend inspired by Freyre’s ideas, to which Mário Filho belonged.

It is worth mentioning the writer Décio de Almeida Prado, a renowned theater critic and professor at the School of Dramatic Art of USP. Aside from his knowledge of literature and dramaturgy, on a par with his contemporary Anatol Rosenfeld, Prado published memoirs and essays on the subject of sports. Five of those texts were gathered in the book Seres, coisas, lugares: do teatro ao futebol (Beings, Things, Places: From Theater to Football—1997). This in turn compiles writings on football produced between 1961 and 1989. The titles are the following: 1. “Recordação de Leônidas da Silva” (Memory of Leonidas of Silva), 2. “Quatro bicampeões” (Four Two-Time Champions), 3. “Fotos de Pelé” (Pictures of Pelé), 4. “Latejando com o futebol” (Throbbing with Football), and 5. “Tempo (e espaço) no futebol” (Time (and Space) in Football).

The essays vary widely between longer and shorter, more complex and more evocative, texts. Of the five, “Time (and Space) in Football” stands out for the suggestive nature of its ideas. It is an attempt to abstract the randomness of combinatorial possibilities of the game and reflect on its fundamental properties, embodied in rules, actors, values, languages, and equipment.

Another immigrant living in Brazil who took an interest in understanding the meaning of football in the country was the Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser. A professor at the University of São Paulo, Flusser had a book published in Germany in 1994 with the unusual title Brazil or the Search for a New Man—Toward a Phenomenology of Underdevelopment. Despite the posthumous publication in the mid-1990s, the nine essays in the work had been written in previous decades. One of them is called “Alienation” and reflects on the meaning of football in Brazil. The comparison contrasts this sense with the meaning formulated in Europe.

The complexity and originality of this philosophical essay can be attested by the reading of its twenty pages. Flusser seeks to refute the current view that football served merely as a means to evade reality. To him, this argument was overly simplistic, and the phenomenon of Brazilian football required a more accurate analysis by the country’s intelligentsia. If the primary motivation of football fans is to evade everyday life, escaping from the oppressive world of work, a fact the author considered evident in the European setting, the Brazilian case for him is qualitatively distinct, since a kind of “dialectic leap” occurred in relation to the first reality-masking stage.

According to the philosopher, Brazil shifted football from alienation to engagement, since here the reality of the game became dominant, absorbing, and not merely complementary. It spilled out of its original realm toward all networks of social life, not the opposite. Thus, Brazilian football did not become a mere outlet to replenish energies drained at work and consume the revolutionary potential of the oppressed masses. On the contrary, through it people have realized the possibility of forging a new reality, the reality of the game, in which one feels one plays an active role within a complex and dynamic universe.

Flusser concludes the essay affirming that, based on his life experience in Brazil, it is possible to predict, in terms of a Brazilian-style dialectic utopia, “a new man,” homo ludens, authentic and spontaneous, whose life would no longer be conditioned by economic ties.20

Another author linked to USP is Flávio Aguiar, professor of Brazilian literature. In the early 2000s, in a collection organized by Alfredo Bosi, Aguiar published the instigating essay “Notas sobre o futebol como situação dramática” (Notes on Football as a Dramatic Situation). Its fifteen pages may at first glance seem light, but its reading proves otherwise. One encounters a broad and deep reflection along the lines proposed by Décio de Almeida Prado, capable of probing and investigating its more abstract constitutive principles.

To this end, Professor Aguiar explores the comparison with other sports modalities and the concentrated dissection of the internal elements unique to the game. Without resorting to political circumstances or social determinants, the descriptive and reflective quality gives the impression that one is before a structuralist exercise. It is as if the approach focused on a specific literary text or erudite interpretation of a certain mythical narrative.

Here is an example:

The space of football is the totality. This totality is made up of circles and quadrilaterals. The universe fits in a circle; the movement, as a desire for harmony, in a quadrilateral. Football solves the problem of squaring the circle, although the quadrilaterals are not square. They stretch into rectangles; the harmony of movement extends in a desire for adventure … The circle of the stadium is breached. It has rectangular entrances, the tunnel mouths that are passages for triumphant entries and melancholy or victorious exits. These rectangular entrances are doors to the past and of the past. Whoever passes through them is transfigured.

The focus is now on the ideas of the Bahia essayist Antonio Risério, an anthropologist and public intellectual recognized in the contemporary cultural scene. In 2007 Risério launched the book A utopia brasileira e os movimentos negros (The Brazilian Utopia and the Black Movements), a set of sixteen essays. Almost thirty pages long, one of them focuses on the subject examined here, entitled “A escola brasileira de futebol” (The Brazilian School of Football).

In the work, the author addresses certain recurring questions related to the constitution of national identity from the modernist viewpoint that enhance the universe of popular culture. Thus he stresses the “anthropophagic cultural disposition” of Brazilians and praises the mestizo neo-baroque, also to explain the success of Brazilian football.21

In this sense, Risério goes to great lengths to evoke the ethnic and esthetic criteria that raised football to the level of artistic ambience. He also discusses why “kids” and “scamps” were able to give a foreign sports phenomenon its unique Brazilian style, agreeing with Freyre’s view, which underlies the discourse of many intellectuals, whether consciously or unconsciously expressed.

Risério’s comprehensive outlook is nevertheless grounded on a rigorous and vast grasp of academic literature related to the history, sociology, and anthropology of football in Brazil. Such grounding offset criticism about the author’s lack of specialized knowledge, scarce contribution, and general statements. Moreover, it must be recognized that, in their substratum, the ideas are strongly linked to the culturalism of a modernist or Freyrean bent.

The last author in this selection is also a professor at USP: the renowned historian Boris Fausto, a fundamental name in Brazilian historiography with work dedicated to the study of the 1930 revolution, immigration, work, and daily life in Brazil. More recently, the author has focused on exercises of micro-history and memoir writing.

The books O crime do restaurante chinês: carnaval, futebol e justiça na São Paulo dos anos 1930 (The Chinese Restaurant Crime: Carnival, Football and Justice in São Paulo in the 1930s—2009) and Memórias de um historiador de domingo (Memories of a Sunday Historian—2010) combine narratives about the history of the city of São Paulo and episodes of personal experience. The purpose is to investigate, from unexpected viewpoints, the formation of the urban environment of São Paulo in the 20th century. In both, football features as one of the key elements in understanding the period, enlivened by his own memories.

The first book, whose setting is the true case of a mysterious crime that occurred in São Paulo in the late 1930s, dedicates a chapter, “O fio invisível do Diamante Negro” (Black Diamond’s Invisible Thread), to addressing the football player Leônidas da Silva. This black player became a national idol during the 1938 World Cup in France and acquired fame with the professionalization of football. Amid the adventures of solving the controversial murder, attributed to an employee who is also black, the historian reconstructs the country’s historical background and offers an original discussion of the controversial issue of racism in Brazil by contrasting Leônidas and the supposed murderer of the case under investigation.

The second book, a more explicit memoir, narrates in one of the chapters the historian’s relationship with football in São Paulo in the 1940s and 1960s, during his adolescence and youth. “Futebol e cinema: um mundo masculino” (Football and Cinema: A Male World) recalls affectionately a phase of sports professionalism in which the most popular clubs, Corinthians, Palmeiras, São Paulo, and Santos, already shared the preference of the inhabitants, mostly young and adult men. With the construction of large stadiums, such as Pacaembu, the spectators at sports venues, among them the author himself, were considered the metonymy of the Brazilian people.

Primary Sources

Given the social range of football in Brazil, the contrast between the popularity of the sport and the belated recognition of the Brazilian social sciences and historiography as to its analytical income is striking. Such an initial framework, however, has been changing rapidly in recent years. Thus, it can be said that football is now a legitimate object of study in the country.

If the pioneering studies of the anthropologists Roberto DaMatta, José Sérgio Leite Lopes, and Simoni Lahud Guedes aroused academic interest for football with their interpretive insights, it was only from the 1990s that the sport has established itself as a field of systematic research.

With an interdisciplinary scope, ranging from physical education to psychology, media communication to anthropology, studies on sports have resulted in dissertations and theses related to various departments and universities. Beyond the individual publishing of books and articles—the preponderance of the football theme is still overwhelming—the formation of groups and research laboratories in several cities (Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte and Recife, among others) evidences a collective work that is also translated into autonomous specialized magazines.

On a general level, the relationship between sport and modernity, on the one hand, and sport and nation, on the other, dominates the agenda of most researchers. The objective is to explain how, historically and sociologically, a market of amusement and leisure in the country was structured, and, within it, what is the role played by modern sports.22

In particular, the way in which football has become one of the main vectors of condensing the idea of “Brazilianness” is sought to be understood. Among the preferred subthemes, there is research on the sports agency by the state apparatus, the strategic and indispensable role of the media in the popularization of sports, and debates among intellectuals and journalists about the meanings of the football practice.

Crucial historical moments of the Brazilian republican experience, such as the nationalism and authoritarianism of the 1930s and the civil-military dictatorship (1964–1985), are given a particular emphasis in these approaches.23 In parallel, the introduction of various sports in the country as elite practices between the late 19th century and early 20th, and the popularization process of some, especially football, have been one flank of analysis extensively explored by Brazilian scholars.

A theme with great prominence among researchers is that of ethnic identities, starting with the sociability of immigrant groups, such as the Italians and the Portuguese in the early decades of the 20th century, along with recreational and sports clubs. Racial integration will be discussed thoroughly thanks to the ascending and irreversible participation of African-descent in football, from the passage of amateurism to professionalism in the 1920s and 1930s.24

Discussions on Brazilian “race” and “culture” are guided by the chronics of memoir of the journalist Mario Filho (1908–1966), assembled in the form of book in The Black People in Brazilian Football, 1947. The controversial work looms in importance as it comes with a foreword of the sociologist Gilberto Freyre (1900–1987), mentioned above, one of the most controversial authors in the discussions about the plasticity of race relations in Brazil, since its consecrated essay Casa-Grande e Senzala (1933) (published in English as The Masters and The Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization).25

Aside from Brazilian authors, it is worth mentioning one of the first sports Brazilianists to address the introduction of football in the country. The drama critic of German origin, Anatol Rosenfeld (1912–1973), whose essay written in the early 1950s was compiled in the book Negro, macumba e futebol (The Black, Macumba and Football), is an important reference in the phase of pre-academic studies of football.26

The specific story of certain professional football clubs—Bangu, Corinthians, and Palmeiras—as well as the anthropological and sociological analysis of the construction of the feeling of belonging to a club of organized supporters, are growing and converging themes of research in recent years.27

Recently, researchers are interested in issues as institutional history of certain entities; the power structures that govern football; and sports overlaps with the political history of the country.28 Among the emerging approaches are the intersections among football, architecture, and urban history, demonstrating the vitality and scale of new looks and new investigations.29

The intersection of the worlds of work and football is a key field for the intellectual production on the sport in the country. Historians and social scientists emphasize the close link of the genesis and development of sports with nationalism, urbanization, and industrialization. In this picture are aggregated still the formation processes of the working class, from the late 19th century, as well as its connection with the adoption of modern British sports in the country.

Further Reading

Antunes, Fátima. Com brasileiro não há quem possa! Futebol e identidade nacional em José Lins do Rego, Mario Filho e Nélson Rodrigues. São Paulo: Ed. Da UNESP, 2004.Find this resource:

    Franzini, Fábio. Corações na ponta da chuteira: capítulos iniciais da história do futebol brasileiro (1919–1938.). Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 2003.Find this resource:

      Hollanda, Bernardo Buarque de. O descobrimento do futebol: modernismo, regionalismo e paixão esportiva em José Lins do Rego. Rio de Janeiro: Edições Biblioteca Nacional, 2004.Find this resource:

        Kittleson, Roger. The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil. California: University of California Press, 2014.Find this resource:

          Lever, Janet. Soccer Madness: Brazil’s Passion for the World’s Most Popular Sport. Waveland Press, 1995.Find this resource:

            Souza, Denaldo. O Brasil entra em campo: Estado, trabalhadores e imprensa na construção da identidade nacional através do futebol (1930–1947). São Paulo: Annablume, 2008.Find this resource:


              (1.) David Wood, “Writing the National Game: Beauty in Brazil,” in Football and Literature in South America (New York: Routledge, 2017), 64–95.

              (2.) Victor Andrade de Melo, “Evidência e especulação: a ‘origem’ do futebol no Rio de Janeiro,” Movimento Porto Alegre 23.3 (2017): 919–934.

              (3.) Leonardo Affonso de Miranda Pereira, Footballmania (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 2001).

              (4.) Wilson Gambeta, A bola rolou (São Paulo: SESI-SP Editora, 2015).

              (5.) Renato Lana, “O jogo da distinção: C.A. Paulistano e Fluminense F.C.—um estudo da construção das identidades clubísticas durante a fase amadora do futebol em São Paulo e no Rio de Janeiro (1901–1933)” (PhD diss., Rio de Janeiro, 2016).

              (6.) Araken Patusca, Os reis do futebol (São Paulo: Bentivegna, 1976), 102.

              (7.) Patusca, Os reis do futebol, 103.

              (8.) Patusca, Os reis do futebol, 104.

              (9.) Patusca, Os reis do futebol, 105.

              (10.) Arlei Damo, “Os selvagens da bola,” in Revista de História (Rio de Janeiro: Biblioteca Nacional, 2009), 23–24.

              (11.) Gilberto Freyre, “Prefácio,” in O negro no futebol brasileiro, ed. Mario Filho (Rio de Janeiro: Mauad, 2003), 25.

              (12.) José Sérgio Leite Lopes, “A vitória do negro que incorporou a pelada,” Revista USP 22 (1994), 64–83.

              (13.) Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Elogio da beleza atlética (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2007).

              (14.) Eduardo Archetti, Masculinities: Football, Polo and Tango in Argentina (Oxford: Berg, 1999).

              (15.) Geneton Moraes Neto, Dossiê 50 (São Paulo: Objetiva, 2000).

              (16.) Antônio Jorge Soares, Ronaldo Helal, Hugo Lovisolo, A invenção do país do futebol (Rio de Janeiro: Mauad, 2001).

              (17.) Ladislau Dowbor, “Que crise é essa?,” in Ponto e vírgula (São Paulo: n. 17, 2015), 1–33.

              (18.) Arlei Damo and Ruben Oliven, Megaeventos esportivos no Brasil: um olhar antropológico (Campinas: Armazém do Ipê, 2014).

              (19.) Hilário Franco Junior, Dando tratos à bola: ensaios sobre futebol (São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2017), 138.

              (20.) Vilém Flusser, Fenomenologia do brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. UERJ, 1998), 101.

              (21.) Antônio Risério, A utopia brasileira e os movimentos negros (São Paulo: Ed. 34, 2007), 322.

              (22.) Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning, Quest of Excitement: Sport and Leisure in Civilizing Process (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985); Pierre Bourdieu, Questions of Sociology (Paris: Miniut, 1980).

              (23.) Plínio Negreiros, “Futebol nos anos 1930 e 40: construindo a identidade nacional,” in História: Questões e Debates (Curitiba, n. 39, 2003), 121–151; Eduardo da Silva, A seleção brasileira nos jogos da Copa do Mundo entre 1930 e 1938. Tese (Doutorado em História) -Departamento de História, Universidade Estadual Paulista/Assis, 2004 [The Brazilian National Team in the matches of the World Cup between 1930 and 1938—Ph.D. Thesis in History] (São Paulo; Unesp, 2004), 333.

              (24.) Authors considered to be classic of the Brazilian social thought manifested themselves on the racial issue in Brazilian football, like Gilberto Freyre, Luís Costa Pinto, Edison Carneiro, and Pessoa de Morais. See G. Freyre, Sobrados e mocambos: decadência do patriarcado rural e desenvolvimento do urbano (Rio de Janeiro: Global Editora, 2003); Luiz Aguiar Costa Pinto, O negro no Rio de Janeiro: relações de raça numa sociedade em mudança (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. UFRJ, 1998); Edison Carneiro, “Apresentação a ‘O negro no futebol brasileiro’,” in Civilização Brasileira, ed. M. Rodrigues Filho, 2d ed. (Rio de Janeiro: 1964); and Pessoa de Moraes, Tradição e transformação no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1964).

              (25.) Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in the Development of Brazilian Civilization (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986).

              (26.) José Sérgio Leite Lopes, “A vitória do futebol que incorporou a pelada. A invenção do jornalismo esportivo e a entrada dos negros no futebol brasileiro,” in Revista USP (São Paulo, n. 22, 1994), 64–83; José Sérgio Leite Lopes, “Classe, etnicidade e cor na formação do futebol brasileiro,” in Culturas de classe: identidade e diversidade na formação do operariado, eds. Cláudio Batalha et al. (Campinas: Ed. Unicamp, 2004). Also see Leonardo Pereira, Footballmania: uma história social do futebol no Rio de Janeiro (1902–1938) (Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 2000). For a reading of the role of Mario Filho in the construction of the participation of black people in national football, see Antônio Soares, “História e invenção das tradições no campo do futebol,” in Estudos Históricos (Rio de Janeiro, n. 23, 1999), 119–146.

              (27.) On the football supporters, see the pioneering and important study by Luiz Henrique de Toledo: Luiz Henrique de Toledo, Torcidas organizadas de futebol (Campinas: Autores Associados, 1996). See also Arlei Damo, “Ah! Eu Sou Gaúcho! O nacional e o regional no futebol brasileiro.,” in Estudos Históricos (Rio de Janeiro, v. 13, n. 23, 1999), 87–117; Rodrigo Monteiro, Torcer, lutar, ao inimigo massacrar: raça rubro-negra! (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. FGV, 2003); Rosana da Câmara Teixeira, Os perigos da paixão: visitando jovens torcidas cariocas (São Paulo: Annablume, 2004). Also see the book by Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda, O clube como vontade e representação: o jornalismo esportivo e a formação das torcidas organizadas do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. 7 Letras, 2010).

              (28.) See Carlos Eduardo Sarmento, A regra do jogo: uma história institucional da CBF (Rio de Janeiro: CPDOC/FGV, 2006).

              (29.) See, for example, Christopher Gaffney, Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008).