Is football still the beautiful game in Brazil?
Book sheds light on the deep impact of the 2014 World Cup on the ordinary people of Brazil and what it still means today12 July 2018 | FT Editor
A new book launched this evening at Western Sydney University looks at why football became ‘unbeautiful’ for so many from the nation whose name is synonymous with the phrase the beautiful game.
The World Cup Chronicles – 31 Days that Rocked Brazil is a fascinating read about the social, cultural, political and sporting legacy of the quadrennial FIFA World Cup, held in Brazil in 2014 and dubbed ‘the best World Cup ever’. It looks at the impact of the tournament on the ordinary people of Brazil from a unique ‘inside, outside’ perspective.
With a narrative that begins with the protests that shocked much of the football world at the 2013 Confederations Cup – the precursor to the World Cup - and defined by the 7-1 decimation of the host nation by the eventual winners, Germany, in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup, The World Cup Chronicles is a fascinating insight into the psyche and culture of Brazilian people.
Author, Dr Jorge Knijnik says the issues surrounding the Brazil football team appear on the field, but stem mostly from off-field matters.
“Looking at what was going on in my home country during 2013 and 2014 led me to think about a seemingly paradoxical question of whether football in Brazil would survive the World Cup,” Knijnik said.
“Football represents one of the main opportunities for social cohesion in Brazil,and my real concern was about the survival of the country’s cultural and social life under the new conditions imposed by global sport events such as the World Cup and, two years later, the Rio Olympics.”
The World Cup Chronicles explores the issues identified by Knijnik, and particularly the impact of the World Cup – the 31 days that rocked Brazil – on the social cohesion of the nation.
Brazilian football received a further jolt in 2015 when past and current Presidents of the powerful Brazilian football federation were indicted for wire fraud and embezzlement by US authorities as part of the initial and famous ‘Zurich raids’ in May 2015.
Knijnik writes that other unfortunate legacies emerged during the tournament.
“The federal government reportedly spent nearly USD$670 million policing the World Cup in a bid to suppress potential disturbances.
“In a period when Brazil is still searching for the truth about the dictatorship period, the heavy hand imposed on demonstrators and anti-World Cup activists was a clear, undemocratic throwback. The new repression strategies left a political scar of profound disregard for human rights which Brazilians will have to overcome in order to build their immature democracy.”
He concludes that the ‘revolution’ needed in Brazilian football – as a reflection of the nation’s culture – may well be the most important political and cultural legacy of the 2014 tournament, although not in 2018.
In a twist compared with other books on Brazilian football, the front cover features a woman player and all of the photographs included in the book were taken by Brazilian woman photographers. The book also devotes considerable attention to gender issues in Brazilian football.
According to Knijnik, it is likely to be the first book on Brazilian football to feature a woman on the front cover.
The World Cup Chronicles – 31 Days that Rocked Brazil by Jorge Knijink is published by Fair Play Publishing, the parent company of Football Today. It is available for $24.99 in paperback from Fair Play Publishing and in paperback and digital format from Amazon worldwide.
football books, jorge knijnik, brazil