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The Country of Football

The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil

Roger Kittleson
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The Country of Football
    Book Description:

    Soccer is the world's most popular sport, and the Brazilian national team is beloved around the planet for its beautiful playing style, thejogo bonito. With the most successful national soccer team in the history of the World Cup, Brazil is the only country to have played in every competition and the winner of more championships than any other nation. Soccer is perceived, like carnival and samba, to be quintessentially Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian.Yet the practice and history of soccer are also synonymous with conflict and contradiction as Brazil continues its trajectory toward modernity and economic power. The ongoing debate over how Team Brazil should play and positively represent a nation of demanding supporters bears on many crucial facets of a country riven by racial and class tensions.The Country of Footballis filled with engaging stories of star players and other key figures, as well as extraordinary research on local, national, and international soccer communities. Soccer fans, scholars, and readers who are interested in the history of sport will emerge with a greater understanding of the complex relationship between Brazilian soccer and the nation's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95825-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Serious Play
    (pp. 1-11)

    Shortly after his appointment as manager of the Seleção (Brazil’s national soccer team) in August 2010, Mano Menezes proclaimed that his mission was to make Brazil a “protagonist” once again on the world stage. As encouraging as this was, most observers were even more pleased when he said he would accomplish this by embracing the true national style. After all, he explained, “The world is playing soccer closer to the Brazilian way than we are.”¹ Coming as the country was beginning its preparations to host the 2014 World Cup, the pressure to win in a convincingly Brazilian manner was intense....

    (pp. 12-52)

    On 13 June 1950, choruses of the joyously silly song “Touradas de Madri” (Bullfights of Madrid) reverberated around the concrete bowl of Rio’s Maracanã Stadium. With the beat “pá-rá-rá-tim-bum-bum-bum” seeming to match the rhythm of the home side’s passing, more than 150,000 spectators gloried in the Seleção’s 6–1 demolition of the Spanish national team.¹ Three days later, a crowd approaching 200,000 people proudly but exaggeratedly trumpeted as 10 percent of the city’s population gathered with every expectation that the celebration would continue on in the final game against Uruguay. The climate of anticipation extended onto nearby streets, where samba...

  7. TWO When It Was Good to be Brazilian: TROPICAL MODERNITY AFFIRMED, 1958–70
    (pp. 53-92)

    The Seleção’s conquest of its first World Cup turned 1958 into “the year the world discovered Brazil.”¹ But which Brazil did this happy hyperbole imply? Most observers were content to see it as merely the source of a soccer that dominated through sheer skill and audacity. This footballing Brazil arrived in the Swedish summer of 1958 and endured through a Chilean winter in 1962 and a depressing English summer in 1966, before reaching its peak during a sweltering Mexican July in 1970. It came in the shape of footballing geniuses, not only Pelé—the King and the most famous of...

  8. THREE Playing Modern: EFFICIENCY OVER ART, 1971–80
    (pp. 93-129)

    Two days after the triumph in Mexico, the national team returned home, setting off explosions of joy. Chanting “Brazil, Brazil” and straining to catch a glimpse of Pelé, more than 100,000 fans watched their heroes’ reception in Brasília’s Plaza of the Three Powers, the hub of the federal government. General Emílio Garrastazu Médici opened the doors of the presidential palace to the public for the first time since the military coup d’état of 1964, an act that some journalists could only describe as a “miracle of soccer” in those years of dictatorship.¹ A more massive celebration awaited the Seleção in...

    (pp. 130-164)

    From 1978 through 1990, Brazil managed to lose five World Cups in a period when only four World Cup tournaments were held. This remarkable feat came about because thieves managed to make off with the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1983. The Seleção of 1970 had brought the prize home as an ostensibly permanent symbol of its footballing excellence. However, officials of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBD, Confederação Brasileira de Futebol) had mysteriously chosen to display the original and guard a copy in a safe, so it was the actual trophy that disappeared in the theft. The consensus theory was that...

  10. FIVE The Business of Winning: BRAND BRAZIL AND THE NEW GLOBALISM, 1990–2010
    (pp. 165-211)

    In early 2006 Nike launched a worldwide marketing campaign that urged viewers, “Joga bonito” (Play beautiful). A massive collaborative effort by Nike and Google,Joga bonitoincluded not only fast-paced TV commercials hosted by former France and Manchester United great Eric Cantona but also a social networking site that was complex by the standards of the time. Although much of the visual content featured famous players from other countries—France’s Thierry Henry, England’s Wayne Rooney, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic—the star of the campaign was Brazil, most often embodied in the dribbling, trick-performing Ronaldinho Gaúcho. One of...

  11. CONCLUSION: Mega-Brazil
    (pp. 212-226)

    In June 2013, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians transformed the Confederations Cup into grand theater. Normally low on sporting drama, the tournament has served as a chance for national coaches to fine-tune their teams and for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and local organizers to work out logistical kinks a year before the start of the World Cup. In the 2013 version, however, the participating teams brought an uncharacteristic level of quality and passion to most games. The final, in which Brazil swept aside Spain, the 2010 World Cup champions, was precisely the matchup and display of quality soccer...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 227-286)
    (pp. 287-312)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 313-328)