“Brazil is empty on a Sunday afternoon, right?
Look sambão here is the country of football.”
No nation is as closely identified with the game of soccer as Brazil. Futebol Nation is the story of Brazil told through its overriding national obsession. For over a century, Brazil’s people, politicians, and poets have found in soccer the finest expression of the nation’s collective potential, embracing its ethnic diversity and its rich cultures of dance and music. Since the team’s dazzling performance in the 1938 at the World Cup in France, Brazilian soccer has contained 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 Ronaldhino. 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 realties 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 presents both sides of 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 the light it shines on the economic and political injustices of Brazilian life that were highlighted last year during the Confederations Cup. Goldblatt shows how Brazilian soccer can, if only occasionally, do justice to Brazilian society’s conviviality and creativity rather than its brutality.