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The Invention of the Beautiful GameFootball and the Making of Modern Brazil$
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Gregg Bocketti

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062556

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062556.001.0001

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The Invention of the Beautiful Game

The Invention of the Beautiful Game

5 The Invention of the Beautiful Game
The Invention of the Beautiful Game

Gregg Bocketti

University Press of Florida

This chapter focuses on Brazilians’ ideas about football styles, demonstrating the struggle of well-to-do sportsmen to train Brazilian footballers to play as they thought Europeans played, and the conviction that by the 1920s a Brazilian football style had begun to emerge. The chapter focuses on arguments about the meaning of the “Brazilian” style and what those arguments reveal about Brazilian ideas about race in the twentieth century. Republican activists rejected racial determinism in favor of an ideology of improvement, which in football meant teaching Brazilians a style built on disciplined teamwork. Their successors adopted deterministic explanations to explain the success of footballers who played individualistically and creatively. They depicted the style as inherently Afro-Brazilian and its success as evidence of Brazil’s racial enlightenment. The chapter shows the invention of an authentically Brazilian football style obscured the inventors’ choices, and demonstrates the limits of football’s “racial democracy.”

Keywords:   style, race, Afro-Brazil, determinism

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