Synopses & Reviews
No nation, not even England, is as closely identified with the game of soccer as Brazil. Its teams yellow shirts are more globally recognized than any of their other cultural artifacts. Its players and coaches are more renowned than its artists, scientists or even its musicians.
David Goldblatt, author of the bestselling history of global soccer, The Ball Is Round, presents us with a chronicle of Brazil as seen through its obsession with the beautiful game. In Futebol Nation, he traces the history of soccer in Brazil from the first arrival of the sport in 1894, through the recrimination and racism of the 1950 World Cup, through the Lula years and Brazil's fifth World Cup title in 2002, to the present day.
The impression that most of the world has of Brazilian soccer is that it is a thing of joy, a source of national pride, an arena of invention, a complex and delightful amalgam of sport and art, music and dance. All this is true, but there is another side to the story. The Brazilian team won 2013 Confederation's Cup in the midst of the largest wave of social protest the country had ever seen. Thousands of demonstrators came out in hundreds of cities to protest the flagrant waste and corruption of the nations soccer authorities in their preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio.
To write the history of Brazilian soccer, then, is to write the history of Brazil. For over a century soccer has reflected both the benign and the malign in Brazilian society. Brazilian soccer has evolved with the nation's political and social development; become entwined with its cultures of music, dance, religion and magic; and has established Brazil's place in the international order. As Goldblatt shows, Brazil and Brazilian soccer are not always what they seem.
No nation is as closely identified with the game of soccer as Brazil. For over a century, Brazil's people, politicians, and poets have found in soccer the finest expression of the nations collective potential. Since the teams dazzling performance in 1938 at the World Cup in France, Brazilian soccer has been revered as an otherworldly blend of the effective and the aesthetic.
Futebol Nation is an extraordinary chronicle of a nation that has won the World Cup five times and produced players of miraculous skill, such as Pelé, Garrincha, Rivaldo, Zico, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho. It shows why the phrase O Jogo Bonito the Beautiful Game has justly entered the global lexicon. Yet there is another side to Brazil and its game, one that reflects the harsh sociological realities of the futebol nation.” David Goldblatt explores the grinding poverty that creates a vast pool of hungry players, Brazil's corrupt institutions exemplified by its soccer authorities, and the pervasive violence that has seeped onto the field and into the stands.
Futebol Nation illuminates both Brazilian soccer and Brazil itself; its brilliance, its magic, its style, and the fabulous myths that have been constructed around it; as well as its tragedies, its miseries, and its economic and political injustices. It is the story of Brazil told through its chosen national game.
About the Author
David Goldblatt is a writer, broadcaster and teacher. He is the author of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football and the co-author of How To Watch The Olympics. He has reported for the BBC on sporting matters ranging from the rise of Senegalese wrestling to the economics of baseball in the Dominican Republic. He teaches sociology at Bristol University.