“Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life” by Alex Bellos

16 04 2008

“Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life”
by Alex Bellos
(UK)

(16AprilMMVIII)

Progress: Done Reading Chapters 1-3

“Futebol…” was written a bit after the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea-Japan – after Brazil achieved its fifth title as World Champions of Football. This book have opened my mind into how football (or soccer) have been part of the very colourful culture and identity of the Brazilians.

“Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life” tells the story of Brazil, Brazilian football, the Seleção (Brazilian national team), their fanatics and their aficionados.

The first chapter talked about how Brazil exported their version of the sport and up to now, there should be more than five thousand football players from Brazil playing in different leagues around the world.

It has produced some of the well-known Brazilian players in the world like: Ronaldinho (FC Barcelona – Spain), Robinho (Real Madrid – Spain), Kaká (AC Milan – Italy), Adriano (Inter Milan – Italy), Ronaldo (AC Milan – Italy), Roberto Carlos (Fenerbache – Turkey), Ze Roberto (Bayern Munich – Germany), Rivaldo (AEK Athens – Greece), Juninho Pernambucano (Lyon – France) and others.

There are also some Brazilians who play for the countries such as Alessandro Santos who is playing for Japan, Zinha for Mexico, Deco for Portugal and Mehmet (Marco Aurelio) for Turkey. These players had to naturalize themselves to the countries they’re playing with to eventually play for the national team, and be able to go to the World Cup along with Brazil – the country they wished to have played for.

The first chapter particularly talked about a Brazilian player who was invited to play in the league far up north to the Faroe Islands – it’s located miles between Iceland and Scandinavia; it’s under the jurisdiction of Denmark in addition to Greenland which is right between Canada and Iceland. I guess everyone would be able to figure out what it’s like there… it’s cold! and someone who came from the tropical side of Brazil would have a hard time in adjusting to the fiercely chilling climate of the lonely islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet, Bellos created a romantic story out of it with a few sad stories too about Brazilian footballers in the Faroes.

~~

The second chapter deals with how football came to Brazil and how it took a long time before players of different backgrounds – English, Portuguese-Brazilians and African-Brazilians – were able to share the sport and eventually developing the Brazilian Football League.

Although the Brazilian Football League isn’t as competitive as their European counterparts such as the English Premier League, Ligue 1 France, Primera Liga, Lega Calcio (according to my good friend), I thought – after reading this part of the book – that the League had a rich history and it deserves to have some recognition in the world of football today.

~~

The third chapter talks about the Brazilians’ passion of the sport. It dealt with the 1950 World Cup, the event that every Brazilian wanted to forget. It was the year when Brazil hosted the World Cup for the very first time and it was the year of sorrow because Brazil failed to win the cup to Uruguay right on their home soil.

To those who have just tuned in to the World Cup of Football for the very first time, though Brazil won the World Cup five times (they are the most achieved by any team in football history), Brazil never won those cups at home. Uruguay (1930), Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), Italy (1934), England (1966) and France (1998) all were able to win the world cup at home soil on the respective years.

This coming 2014, the World Cup will come back to Brazil and this time, we’re all hoping for the Brazilians to regain their pride and avoid that second defeat at home base. If 1950 was their Hiroshima, let’s hope that 2014 will not be their Nagasaki – sorry ’bout the reference but Nelson Rodrigues, a Brazilian journalist did say that “Our (Brazil’s) Hiroshima, was the defeat by Uruguay in 1950”.

The good thing though is that it took them eight years to achieve their first World Cup and they were champions again in 1962 and in 1970 – all three championships won with the help of Pelé, the greatest football player of all time – and another in 1994 after a thrilling penalty shootout against Italy; and another in 2002 at Yokohama Stadium against Germany.

~~

At this point, it’s really fascinating to know how great Brazilian football is throughout its existence and I do hope that they will become even stronger in the next world cup competitions to come. Unfortunately, I’m hoping for a new country out there who can take up the challenge and be able to achieve the same achievements that Brazil, Italy, Germany, Uruguay, England and France had.

I dunno but Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and the Netherlands need to at least get one. Hungary had its peak in the 1930s and 1950s, it would be great if they will come back again and join the other teams mentioned. Greece have become stronger, I’m hoping for them to get in the next World Cup.

It’s unfortunate that I’m not too optimistic about any team from the Asian, North American and African Zones getting further in the World Cup – never mind the Philippines (where I came from) which could be the country I’d cheer for if they value enough football just the same as basketball and actually get qualified in big tournaments like the world cup; Filipinos will just have to sit and dream about it for now – but who knows….

This is my favourite quote in football: “The ball is round, and a football game has 90 minutes.” It just tells me that anything is possible in a ball game like football.

~~

There are so much to talk about after reading every chapter, I do recommend this book to everyone out there who have a sense of passion for football or soccer. Next time around, I might write an overall impression of the book rather than just writing reactions about every chapter. It gets really interesting as you flip the book further and it has 15 chapters.

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