With the World Cup in Qatar, which starts this Sunday (20), taking place right next to the polarized presidential election in Brazil, the ability of the soccer team, a historical passion of most Brazilians, to rescue unity in a society is questioned. cracked in half.
In an interpretation that sees an increase in the chance of a truce during the World Cup, there is the tournament component itself, since the competition usually has the natural power to involve fans in an environment of fraternization.
“The Cup has a strong meaning because, at the time of the games, this division [de ideologia] ceases to exist”, says political scientist Marco Antonio Carvalho Teixeira, professor at FGV-SP.
In the fiercest election since redemocratization, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) was elected president for the third time, beating the current Chief Executive, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), by 50.90% against 49.10%.
In society, the result of the polls resulted in divisions between families and groups of friends, which were not infrequently conflictual.
The professor’s vision comes true in the words of Brazilian fans who are in Qatar to support Tite’s team, who in an interview with Sheet at the beginning of October, when talking about Brazil’s problems, he emphasized that “football cannot offer the solution of pleasure, of satisfaction”.
“The Cup arrives at an opportune moment, for Brazil to unite. It will relieve some of the tension that still exists in our country”, says Wallace Leite, 67, who will see his tenth World Cup in loco.
Brazil debuts in the tournament next Thursday (24th), at 4 pm, against Serbia.
For him, the World Cup will ease the situation. “We are all Brazilians and the colors green and yellow do not belong to a party. It is time to use the Cup to rescue Brazil’s unity. To rescue the essence of what it means to be Brazilian.”
Beside him, Esdras Macedo, 57, thinks alike and highlights the fact that the tournament takes place at the end of the year, after the elections.
“We needed to get out of that distressing moment that Brazil was going through. The Cup being directed towards the end of the year seems like it wasn’t the work of chance. Imagine if it were in June, with all that weather in Brazil. It would be hell. changing dates was essential for Brazil, for people to unite around an ideal, even if it is in football.”
In this context, many shirts of the Brazilian national team ended up being shelved, since they came to symbolize only the Bolsonarist half of the country.
Will they continue to be shelved now, during the World Cup? Or will the Brazilian team manage, with the players passing on a message of convergence around a goal –the sixth championship–, transforming the thinking of the part of the population that disliked the “hopscotch” (as the famous coach Mario Zagallo referred to the )?
Political pundits and sports scholars are trying to reach a verdict, and there is some optimism.
“The yellow shirt is an unofficial symbol of Brazil. It is not official, it is not the flag, it is not the anthem, but it has a very great power. Bolsonarism captured, kidnapped this symbol”, says Flávio de Campos, coordinator of Ludens ( Interdisciplinary Nucleus of Studies on Football and Ludic Modalities), from USP.
The also history professor remembers, however, that the use of the yellow shirt predates Bolsonarism, referring to the demonstrations of June 2013 by sectors more to the right, in the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT).
“She became a symbol of Dilma’s overthrow and then a symbol of Bolsonaro’s campaign, in 2018, and of Bolsonarism now, even with these coup groups that call for institutional rupture and non-recognition of the election result.”
A more radical portion of Bolsonaro’s electorate has, since the defeat in the October 30 elections, promoted anti-democratic acts of a coup-like nature, including roadblocks.
The CBF itself strives to depoliticize the Brazilian shirt, through a campaign.
“Our message is one of encouragement. Football cannot live without fans. And connecting people of all ages, places, colors, races, ideologies and religions to football is our purpose”, said Ednaldo Rodrigues, president of the entity, elected in March of this year.
For José Carlos Marque, lecturer in communication and sport at Unesp, it is necessary to go back to the origins of hopscotch.
“We have to return the yellow shirt to its place and not allow it to be an appropriate symbol for the right, not least because yellow is not a symbol of the right anywhere in the world”, says José Carlos Marques, associate professor in communication and sport by Unesp.
You can’t hand the yellow shirt to the extreme right in Brazil on a platter. This depends a lot on the left going back to wearing yellow with pride to prevent the shirt from being held hostage by the right
A possible obstacle to the detachment of the jersey from Bolsonarism and the right is Neymar, owner of the prestigious shirt number 10 that once belonged to Pelé.
According to political scientist Carlos Pereira, “as the main player of the Brazilian national team has taken a public position in defense of President Bolsonaro, it is almost natural, due to polarization, that several Lula supporters show reticence to engage in support of the national team at first”.
“I want to believe that during the World Cup, if Brazil starts to perform well, with an outstanding performance by Neymar, these elements of polarization tend to dilute”, says the FGV-RJ professor, who is in France as a professor Visitor from Paris 1 University.
Campos, from USP, points out that Neymar’s political position should not be seen in a condemnatory way.
“Neymar represents us, he represents the Brazilian team, which is this diverse team in a democratic country. I look favorably on having a team with a diversity of political choices. It is legitimate that he has the right to take a political stand.”
A World Cup that can pacify and reunite Brazil, while rescuing the meaning of the yellow shirt, also depends on the attitude of political representatives, specifically those on the left, say the interviewees.
“The political leaders who won the elections, Lula, [o vice eleito Geraldo] Alckmin, benches of deputies and senators who are not connected to Bolsonarism and the elected governors will take a positive attitude of wearing the yellow shirt and encourage the whole society to follow the Brazilian team at this time?”, asks Campos, who is also a researcher at football history.
Teixeira, from FGV-SP, responds to this doubt by stating that “it will be up to the politicians and the president [eleito] of the Republic take care of reunifying the country. The Cup will not be responsible for that”.
Pereira follows in the same vein. “It will fundamentally depend on Lula’s and the PT’s attitude during the Cup. If he wears the Brazilian shirt, assumes a posture of defending the team regardless of political or electoral issues, it is quite possible that potential animosities will be diluted and the country will be unified around the Brazilian team”.
“It would be very interesting if Lula celebrated Brazil’s victories in the Cup with the yellow shirt”, says Marques, from Unesp, “because it is necessary to return it to what it has always been, a mythical garment of Brazilian football and also a mythical garment other sports in Brazil, such as volleyball and basketball.”
This selection has Bolsonaro voters, has Lula voters, and hopefully it will be victorious in Qatar. Football could be a starting point for rebuilding common goals that articulate Brazilian society and the different social strata a little more
The petista himself said, in a publication on the networks, that he would adopt green and yellow during the tournament.
“The World Cup starts in a little while and we don’t have to be ashamed of wearing the green and yellow shirt. The shirt doesn’t belong to a political party, it belongs to the Brazilian people. You will see me wearing the yellow shirt, but the mine will have the number 13.”