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 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY (latinamericanhistory.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 May 2018

Summary and Keywords

The text discusses the construction of the image of “country of football,” associated with Brazil during the second half of the 20th century, based on the performance of the Brazil squad in the World Cups. At first, we describe the history of the introduction and of the process of popularization of football practice at the beginning of the 20th century. Then, we discuss the importance of the international competitions for the association between the sport and the national identity, already in the first half of the last century. If the expression “country of football” is traditionally associated with the several wins of the Brazil squad in the World Cups, such as in 1958, 1962, and 1970, the text shows how the roots of this imagery can already be found in the 1920s and 1930s. In this period, tours of Brazilian clubs to Europe and the national squad’s participation in the France World Cup, in 1938, led to the first recognition of the technical virtues and individual skill of South American players. Finally, we show how, from the 1990s, despite some wins and cups, there is a kind of identity crisis of the “country of football,” calling into question the adequacy of the metaphor in the early 21st century.

Keywords: football, Brazil, world cups, national identity, Brazilian history, FIFA, Gilberto Freyre

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