Futebol : The Brazilian Way of Life

4.02 (1,125 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Brazilian football team is one of the modern wonders of the world. At its best it exudes a skill, flamboyance and romantic pull like nothing else on earth. Football is how the world sees Brazil and how Brazilians see themselves. The game symbolises racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation and skill, and yet football is also a microcosm of Latin America's largest country and contains all of its contradictions. Travelling extensively from the Uruguayan border to the northeastern backlands, from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the Amazon jungle-Bellos shows how Brazil changed football and how football shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, between the great teams, like Corinthians and Vasco de Gama, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country. With an unerring eye for a good story and a marvellous ear for the voices of the people he meets, Alex Bellos describes the startling range of football spinoffs found in Brazil; from Autoball, literally football with cars and a giant leather ball to Ecoball, played in the heart of the rainforest, from Button football and its highly regulated procedures organised by fearsome Buttonistas to the truly alarming Footbull (yes with bulls).show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 134 x 212 x 34mm | 539.78g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • illustrations, photos
  • 074755403X
  • 9780747554035

Review quote

How Brazil changed football and how football shaped Brazil: From Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon Jungle, Alex Bellos tells the stories behind the great players, the great teams, and the great matches, mixed with local legends from people and pitches all over Brazil.show more

About Alex Bellos

Alex Bellos is the Observer's and Guardian's reporter in Rio de Janeiro where he has lived and worked for four years.show more

Review Text

Beginning in the Faroe Islands and ending up inside the mind of player turned doctor Socrates, Futebol offers an eclectic look at the passions, high expectations and sometimes crushing reality of a country as lived through its national sport. The first-time author, Alex Bellos, declares at one point that 'Brazilians have a predisposition for colourful melodrama'. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the stadia and boardrooms of football clubs right across this vast South American nation.Brazil have won four World Cups and are the only team to have played in the final stages of each tournament. The players have earned a reputation for thrilling play that reached its zenith in the demolition of Italy in the 1970 final. To some extent, Brazil and a large number of football agents have been trading on the exploits of Pele and his colleagues ever since, for while the teams of the 1970s and '80s played exciting football they lacked a ruthless streak, and the side that eventually captured the cup again in 1994 were dull pragmatists with little of the flair of their predecessors. Bellos includes chapters on Brazilians playing overseas, braving the freezing cold of the Faroes because they could never hope to earn anywhere near as much at home; the alleged origins of the sport in Brazil and its rapid take-up; players' names; superstitions; eccentric fans; the stadium on the Equator; and, sadly, corruption. Along the way, Bellos introduces the reader to a gallery of eccentrics, but there is nothing quirky or endearing about the men who are killing the game in Brazil. The sport is so disorganized that it is a wonder anybody gets to play at all. It appears to be run by vested interest, with the bigger clubs being given a helping hand at every opportunity at the expense of up-and-coming teams. The Brazilian 'brand' is a very saleable commodity around the world, but certain unscrupulous people are in danger of tarnishing it beyond redemption if Bellos is correct. This is an essential volume for football fans and those who appreciate good travel writing. Entertaining and sobering, it makes one yearn for the style and swagger of the past teams, and fear for the future of a national obsession in the wrong hands. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

1,125 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 33% (367)
4 42% (477)
3 20% (229)
2 4% (47)
1 0% (5)
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