Brazil has long been known as a “factory” specializing in producing football talents that spread across the globe. Brazilian players are always popular wherever they go in the world. But why can the land of Samba achieve this? Why is Brazil so good at football? Here, we explore the answer to this question.
The culture of Brazil is a football culture
Football arrived in Brazil more than a century ago, brought from Europe in a suitcase to amuse the settlers. It quickly became a beloved game and a cherished cultural legacy as Brazilians embraced it, adding their distinct values to the sport.
Aldo Rebelo, former Minister of Sports of Brazil, shared insightful perspectives on the country’s football culture. He expressed, “Our people have an intense passion for football, making Brazilian football a global sensation. With just a ball and a field, you can play anywhere in this vast country, from Rio de Janeiro’s beaches to the Amazon’s forests.”
What sets Brazilian football apart is its lack of a fixed mold. You won’t find players identical to Neymar, Pele, Ronaldo, or Romario. Each player has unique traits that make them stand out, and we encourage young players to embrace their individuality.
Regarding the philosophy of Brazilian football, Rebelo explained, “It’s a blend of joy, spontaneity, and freedom, with a tactical foundation. Our ‘football player factory’ uses the dreams of countless children as raw material, with each aspiring to match their heroes, regardless of fame or social status. As former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari once said, Brazilians have an unwavering love for football.”
The history of Brazil’s football culture reveals that it initially faced reservations from the elite and intellectuals. This is why there are no major books or films about football in Brazil. The passion for the sport stems from the less privileged population, with fans saving hard-earned money to attend stadiums. Football was initially introduced by the elite, with Afro-Brazilians only allowed to play for professional teams in 1920. Nevertheless, football became a passion for people of all social classes, as the working class transformed it into the beloved sport it is today.
The emergence of many great Brazilian players from slums can be attributed to the social stratification of society, where skin color and wealth determined one’s position. Football became a means for Afro-Brazilians and the poor to advance socially. This continues to be true even though society has become less unequal.
Currently, there is concern that Brazil’s free-spirited and creative football style may be diminishing. Rebelo pointed out that young players going to Europe at an early age leads them to adapt to the football models of England, Germany, and Italy, potentially impacting the future of Brazilian football. Despite this, Brazil remains renowned for producing outstanding attacking players and midfielders. While there was a shift in focus to defenders like Thiago Silva and David Luiz for a time, Neymar has reignited the passion for the skillful style of play that defines Brazilian football.
See also: Why does Barca still have to pay Messi?
The essence of Brazilian soccer is street football
Brazil is renowned worldwide for its deep passion for football. From Pele to Neymar, Brazilian players showcase unique styles and exceptional skills, making them a highly respected footballing nation.
Notably, Sao Paulo, the country’s largest city, embodies “O Jogo Bonito” (the beautiful game), dominating South America’s love for soccer. With around 12 million residents, Sao Paulo boasts a rich football history, highlighted by its three major clubs – Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Sao Paulo – clinching 27 national championships and garnering 7 million devoted fans.
Football’s fervor flows freely at all levels here – from professional to semi-professional and amateur. The city houses over 1,000 active amateur teams. Inspired by national team heroes, amateur players express their individuality through vibrant clothing, lively tattoos, and dazzling footwear, transforming matches into captivating spectacles of color and motion.
During a weekend stroll through Sao Paulo, football enthusiasts can be seen playing in diverse settings, from fathers teaching their kids in parks to amateur tournaments in abandoned factories turned impromptu stadiums. Football is the lifeblood of this city.
The football’s factory of talents and passion
In Brazil, football runs deep in people’s veins. With a rich history of FIFA World Cup victories, it’s no surprise that football talent has become a valuable export for Brazilians, with over 10,000 players currently plying their trade globally.
Take the Botafogo football academy, for instance. This prestigious Rio de Janeiro club nurtures young players from age 7, and by 9, they could already be signing professional contracts. In the multi-billion-dollar football industry, these kids are potential money-makers.
Felipe Arantes, Botafogo International’s director, guides them, saying, “At 9, we tell them they are unique and should dedicate their entire lives to football.”
But such dreams come with pressures. Some players, still teenagers, become the breadwinners for their families, navigating the promises of lucrative European contracts.
Parents play a pivotal role, too. Ivo Barbosa sees football as a ticket to a better life for his sons but emphasizes the need for backup plans and bans football for poor school performance.
Unfortunately, the pursuit of money sometimes overshadows long-term career prospects, impacting Brazil’s football landscape. Representatives often woo parents with material incentives, creating a divide between player development and the business side of football.
Challenges in Brazilian football
Deasevedo has experienced firsthand the significance of being a talented young footballer in Brazil. He had the opportunity to become a star, but an injury cut his career short. “It was my lifelong dream,” he recalls. “I suffered a serious meniscus injury just before turning pro, and being from a humble family, I couldn’t afford the surgery.”
After giving up his playing career, Deasevedo turned to coaching and laments the current state of Brazilian football. “There’s a great disappointment because many players aren’t ready to leave, but they end up forced to go abroad for money. We lose players at a very young age. Are these players being neglected? It’s a tough situation for them to leave.”
These young players carry the hopes and dreams of an entire nation. Finding the next Pele has become a quest for the entire football industry, even if it means sacrificing Brazil’s football culture. The export of players to Europe, who return with substantial earnings and a more pragmatic style, has gradually diminished the unique essence of Brazilian football.
Deasevedo expresses his concern about the returning players, “They come back just to entertain, and we don’t see much quality. It sets a bad example for those players who stay here. It’s perilous for the overall quality of our football.”
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