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The Brazilian Style of Football and its Dilemmas

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Abstract

Football was introduced and played by members of Brazil’s elite as a way of confirming their distinctive position against other social groups. Yet football’s popularity spread extraordinarily from the end of the 1910s. In the following decade, in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, highly talented players emerged among the working classes. They opened the way to the professional age, despite a strong defence of amateurism mounted by most directors at the leading clubs. The defence of professionalism and its subsequent developments helped to forge a sense of national identity through football. This sentiment was related to the creation of a style of play that owed much to working-class players. Paradoxically, the same players’ characteristics were criticised whenever a defeat was anticipated or actually occurred. The specific qualities of these players were seen as weakening the nation’s status vis-à-vis European nations or Brazil’s South American rivals, Argentina and Uruguay (cf. Leite Lopes 1997). Often, these criticisms emphasised the lack of physical and tactical discipline which supposedly influenced the results, even if an elegant style of playing had been exhibited.

Keywords

  • National Identity
  • Professional Football
  • Football Club
  • Physical Education School
  • Black Player

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9780230378896_8
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© 1999 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Lopes, J.S.L. (1999). The Brazilian Style of Football and its Dilemmas. In: Armstrong, G., Giulianotti, R. (eds) Football Cultures and Identities. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230378896_8

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