Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life Alex Bellos Bloomsbury, £, pp In the arts of performance – in music and dance, ecstatic religion. Alex Bellos · Home · Writer · Broadcaster · Public Speaker · Bio · Contact. Navigation, Home · Writer · Broadcaster · Public Speaker · Bio · Contact. Alex is one of the few people who can talk about numbers without being My first book was Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life, a look at contemporary Brazil.

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In the arts of performance – in music and dance, ecstatic religion, soap opera, plastic surgery, transvestism and football – Brazilian style tends to both sublimity and excess. In the case of football, the sublime and the excessive go hand in hand.

Brazil has the most brilliant and graceful players, and the most extravagantly dedicated fans. It also has the most corrupt professional organisations, subject to recurrent accusations of match-fixing, nepotism and drug-smuggling. Mismanagement at the professional level futebll young footballers to penury.

On the international scene Brazil’s star has been in decline since the World Cup in it was further eclipsed by defeat at the hands of Ecuador, a country with less than a fifteenth of Brazil’s population. In Brazil itself, though, the game is alive and well. Aelx sporting events pale in comparison to a Brazilian football match. Brazilian football violence has belloss distinctive features.

As Alex Bellos explains, it has been known for disappointed fans to waylay and attack their own team bus if they lose. Millwall supporters look mild by comparison.


Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life – Updated Edition: Alex Bellos: Bloomsbury Publishing

Futebol is an affectionate and shrewd account of the game as played both in Brazil and also in the global diaspora, where Brazilian players bring glamour and tropical credibility to clubs from the Arctic Circle to the Belloss. The book is full of intriguing sidelights on Brazilian popular culture, its hedonism, piety and wondrous absurdity.

Bellos takes us to the Amazon, to Uruguay and to the Faroe Islands, where several Brazilian players have recently settled. The conditions of work in Brazil are such that practically any club in Europe offers a better living.

Not that these Brazilians are necessarily better players than the locals: Brazilians are mascots, futebil links to a world where football has a magical significance – one where you don’t have to brave frost and gale-force winds to play. In Brazil futfbol discovery of this global market has fitebol, as Bellos explains, that there is a danger of professional football becoming an export monoculture, breeding cheap players for sale abroad, like coffee or cotton in slavery days.

The fact that many of the best Brazilian footballers are black adds an edge to this analogy. There have been scandals, too, involving the sale to European clubs of underaged players with forged documents.

Because of this and other rackets, the Brazilian Football Confederation has just been the subject of a congressional investigation.

Yet the game goes on, in its sublimity and excess. Even the names of players are a source qlex wonderment to non-Brazilians. They are on first-name terms with the whole world. Political correctness does not count for much here: A former national coach, one of the subjects of the congressional investigation, delights in the name of Wanderley Luxemburgo.


Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life

By Bellos’s account, though, his name is one of the few delightful things about him. The Brazilian instinct for hybridisation has produced a swath of variations on standard soccer. One of them involves an endurance contest where solo contenders kick the ball repeatedly in the air for as long as possible.

The record, nine hours and six minutes of uninterrupted ball play, is held by Ronaldo’s wife; it is a feat that cannot be ascribed to nepotism.

A kickabout with Sócrates

Finally, Alez reports, in Amazonia there is futelama – mud football – played on the slithery mudflats that run along the banks of the river.

I’ve travelled in many parts of Brazil, but I seem to have missed out on mud football. This is a game that has not yet suffered the effects of professionalisation, or even industrialisation. It can be played with a ball made from natural rubber harvested from the rainforest. A sliding tackle is liable to take you half the length of the pitch, leaving everyone covered in black sludge.

The game continues until the rising tide stops play. It sounds like a lot of fun. Topics Books The Gear. Higher education Sport and leisure books reviews.