Flipside – Brazilian Society through Football

Alex Bellos, introduced by Liz Calder
Alex Bellos, introduced by Liz Calder

In the lunchtime event on Sunday at Flipside, the author Alex Bellos talked to Susie Nicklin from the British Council, about the Brazilian defeat in the 1950’s World Cup to Uruguay.  As old footage was shown, Bellos commentated and explained the coverage which focused both on the pitch and the animated and excited crowd.  He told the audience at Flipside, that after the defeat all aspects of that game were considered, even the fact that the team wore white and there was a thought that this was the wrong colour for a Brazilian team.  This prompted a competition to be developed with the condition that all four colours of the Brazilian flag should be used to create a new strip.   When researching his book “Futebol, the Brazilian way of Life”, Bellos, contacted the winner of that competition and was shown the image that had been sent in that eventually became the winning strip.  He talked about the role of politics and corruption in Futebol and recalled that President Lula´s first act was to introduce 2 laws to avoid perceived and real corruption in football.   Bellos argued that because Brazilian football lacked rules and organisational structure, this introduced an original slant to the game, that made Brazilian football much more exciting in the 1960’s.

Bellos was asked about Pele.  He recounted the story of two heroes of the game, Pele from São Paulo and Garrincha, from Magê, who was much more a man of Brazil, a man of the people, albeit, a drinker and womaniser. “Even today no one ever says a bad work about Garrincha”.   He said he thinks people are slightly disappointed by Pele because he appeared to be a black guy who wanted to be white.   He reflected on how Brazilian players can talk and talk, unlike British player who sometimes struggle to make even one sentence when interviewed.

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