Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil Through Soccer
As the 2014 World Cup captures the excitement of people around the world, I decided I should learn a little about the history of Brazil. The opportunity presented itself through David Goldblatt's book, which gives a glimpse into Brazilian history through the lens of soccer. Having read Goldblatt's famous The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer in the fall for one of my classes, I should have known what I was getting into. Goldblatt's style of writing is dense; I found the beginning of the book quite difficult to get through. However, once he got into the 1950s, things got a lot more interesting. He began to focus on the intersection of soccer and politics, leading up to the Copa das Manifestações (the Demonstrations Cup, the name giving to the mass protests sweeping Brazil). With the excitement that inevitably arises from the World Cup, it is hard to focus on the costs of such an event (I highly recommend watching John Oliver's takedown of FIFA + The World Cup, a quick overview of the corruption, scandal etc. - watch here!). Goldblatt does a fantastic job of focusing on the underlying sociopolitical backdrop. As one review writes, "Along with the feats of Pelé, the tortured genius of Garrincha and the recent promise of Neymar, we are confronted with a tale of bigotry, misconduct, megalomania, deceit, murder and charlatanism." It's hard to understand how Brazil, a country once united by soccer, could be so torn apart. Pelé, hailed as the greatest soccer player of all time, is a hero in his native Brazil. With the onset of protests, he said (qtd. in Goldblatt):
Let's forget all this commotion happening in Brazil, all these protests, and let's remember how the Seleção is our country and our blood.
Futebol Nation highlights how Brazil is so intertwined with the national sport, but also provides a "reality check" in terms of the current World Cup. If you are at all interested in this subject matter, I recommend reading it before the tournament ends to provide another perspective on what is happening in Brazil. Also a quick google search of "Brazil Protests" provides insight on something SportsCenter doesn't necessarily cover. Rating: ★★★★