Football is the number 1 sport in Brazil!

              More than anywhere else in the world, football is the number 1 sport in Brazil!

It punctuates the life of the inhabitants, whether they come from poor neighborhoods or upscale classes, it governs their way of life, it maintains their pride on both sides of the planet, it represents the deification of the sportsman who can, thanks to his exceptional talent, bring indescribable joy to his supporters, or an unfathomable pain. Without risking caricature, we can say that Brazil IS football.

 

 


Football in Brazil: an extraordinary and eventful history

 

The youngest, or the least addicted to the world of football, perhaps keep in mind a very sad image of Brazilian football: that of an incredulous nation crushed by the pain of an unimaginable defeat in the semi-finals of the last Football World Cup organized... (ouch!) in Brazil in 2014.

This rout of exceptional magnitude (7-1 against Germany) suffered by one of the Seleçãos certainly the least talented in the history of Brazilian Futebol demonstrates at least two things: even the greatest team in the world is not immune to a stinging disillusionment, and no one will be able to erase the countless successes that this team has gleaned throughout the decades. From its importation from the distant British Empire at the end of the nineteenth century by Charles W. Miller, an Anglo-Brazilian born in São Paulo, to the exploits in the World Cup, football has established itself in Brazil as the essential sport, the one thanks to which everything becomes possible, for the wealthiest as for the most deprived. And its history shows it well with no less than 5 World Cups won, a record simply unequalled until today!

 

 

 

Football, the cement of the Brazilian nation

 

The indisputable advantage of football over all other sports is the simplicity of its basic rules that make everyone can have access to the understanding of this sport. As in all countries of the world, football in Brazil is quickly becoming an institution. But more than elsewhere, it will turn into a second religion, after the very official one of Catholicism. From the beginning of the twentieth century, clubs were created, mainly in large cities such as Rio or São Paulo, giving rise to increasingly passionate clashes. In the highly compartmentalized Brazilian society, these games have an eminently symbolic value: Today clubs like Flamengo Rio are becoming the banners of the poor and working class, while the wealthy classes are represented by the Fluminense... which has no players of color in its ranks. This remark will take on a very special character in this country with strong unequal trends. And the clashes on the grass will be more symbolic!

Any kid who kicks a ball, or even a tin can, in the streets of the favelas of the great Brazilian cities caresses the secret hope of one day becoming the adored star that we will applaud in mythical stadiums like the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro (200,000 seats at its construction, a world record at the time), built for the first World Cup organized by Brazil in 1950. More than a sport or a game, football is a social elevator in which all ethnic origins will soon mix to the delight of an entire people.

  

 

 

Pelé, the king of Brazilian football

 

The World Cups will propel Brazil to the forefront of the international scene after the Second World War. That of 1950 of course, even if the defeat in the final "at home" against the sworn enemy Uruguay is hard felt by the fans, but especially that of 1958 in Sweden with the brilliant victory in the final of the Seleção auriverde. And above all, the planetary revelation of the very young (17 years old) attacking Edson Arantes do Nascimento, said Pelé.

With three World Cups to his credit and other prestigious titles, the "king" Pelé will embody for eternity the perfect image of the modern footballer, in the same way as Fangio for motorsport. In Brazil, he became the emblematic figure unanimously respected in and out of the country (he was also appointed Minister of Sports of Brazil in the nineties, then Ambassador of the UN and UNESCO to Education and the Environment). Pelé does not only represent the Brazilian ideal in sports. With his natural elegance and talent, he will perfectly embody this brilliant, artistic, and inspired game that will always be the trademark of the Brazilian team, to the delight of the fans, and not only Brazilians.

Like Pelé, all the great Brazilian players – and this is what makes it their undeniable charm – apply themselves to practice this game made of intuition and strokes of genius, which the press around the world has described as a "samba game" as the festive aspect is obvious in what the national team offers. Even if nowadays the game has become muscular and leaves less and less room for fantasy – as unfortunately in many sports – seeing Brazil evolve in selection remains a rare pleasure, even for the most reluctant to the ground ball.

 

   

 

Socrates, The Democratic Doctor & Ronaldo, the 2 unforgettable successors

 

Pele's successors were numerous and naming them all would be a long time. However, we will mention two of them, for their particularity: Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, or simply Ronaldo, is considered one of the best strikers of all time. "O Fenomeno" was a powerful player, with breathtaking speed and impeccable technique. Winner of two Ballons d'Or (1997 and 2002) and two World Cups (1994 and 2002), he remains an absolute reference for strikers around the world.

The other "phenomenon" was the iconic Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, better known as Sócrates. This elegant midfielder does not have a first-rate international record (he was unfortunately part of the eighties team that did not manage to bring the World Cup back to the country), but his extraordinary career makes him one of the most outstanding players: unlike the vast majority of his classmates, Sócrates was not only educated, but holds a medical degree, hence his nickname "Doctor"!

To this particularism of size, the player-doctor added that of a citizen committed to more freedom of expression, the country then living under the rule of the military junta. He established a kind of self-management in his club of Corinthians with the key to actions intended to make the Brazilian people aware of the need to manage their own destiny. Their motto was "Win or lose, but in democracy."

This commitment not only never met with the veto of the authorities (too afraid to touch a legend like Sócrates) but had a significant part in the country's journey towards the path of democracy.

  

 

Football in Brazil, A great mass not to be missed under any circumstances

 

The football fan, but also the curious tourist, will not be able to refuse the opportunity offered to go see a great football match in a mythical place such as the Morumbi of São Paulo or the Maracanã of Rio de Janeiro. Even if the latter has seen its capacity reduced from 200,000 to 100,000, then to 80,000 spectators for the 2014 World Cup – officially for better show conditions, attending a match of the Brazilian championship, or for the luckiest of a South American cup, in these temples of football remains a dream opportunity to live an exceptional experience of fervor and passion as only the Brazilian people knows how to produce it.

Like Carnival, football remains the unmissable opportunity for Brazilians who are always quick to party to show their exuberance and unwavering credo in their team. The pre-match discussion will not be about winning or not winning, but about what will be the best possible composition of the Seleção to bring back a title that can only go without saying (well... in theory)!

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