The Brazilian Football Museum
Football is religion to Brazil.
We, as Americans, have the NFL, but it’s really not the same. The Pantheon is the Maracanã, and the deities include names like Ronaldinho Gaucho, Ronaldo, and Kaka. Pelé is Zeus and he rules his kingdom with grace and respect. Any true football fan would recognize that Pelé is the all time greatest, and Brazilians would fight over any discrepancy of that fact.
Football is the poor man’s, and the rich man’s game in Brazil. It is played in well-lit football fields in gated communities and on uncut grass along side a highway. There are those who are entitled to be on the field, with expensive Nikes and latest World Cup edition ball, and those who play bare foot, dribbling around broken glass and dumpsters. Footballers in Brazil are street artists and entertainers, businessmen and construction workers. Very few people in Brazil can say they haven’t tried playing the game, and while some aren’t talented, they still understand the beautiful game. The bright yellow jersey is like the second flag for brazil. It represents a higher calling; a chance to be a part of the upper echelon of Brazil. With that jersey, a Brazilian isn’t rich or poor, he is a god.
The Museu de futebol is located in São Paulo, inside the Municipal Stadium. You aren’t allowed to take any photos inside the museum, so my visuals are limited, however I can promise you it is truly a mecca of sorts for any football fan. Almost everything is in English, Spanish or Portuguese on some level, so you don’t need to be a native speaker to go there. It shows the high points, and low points, of Brazilian football and what it means to the country. It can’t truly depict the value of football though, but the dozens of fans of all ages waving their Corinthian or Flamengo flags around São Paulo or Rio can.
As you walk in, the top moments in Brazilian football history, International and domestic, are displayed in some exciting visuals. You listen (or read) the commentary from journalists, commentators and athletes who experienced the moment. World Cup Qualifiers, Brazilian championships are all on display, and each one of them makes you more and more inclined to celebrate yourself.
After a narrow flight of stairs through what appears to be a desolate corner of the museum, a reverberating drum beat starts vibrating your sternum. Communication to your companions is impossible. Flashes of light hit every corner of the room.
This is the fan display. Underneath the stands of the Municipal Stadium are 10 projection screens, portraying the fans dance, sing and beat the drum as they watch their team. This montage of support raises the hair on your neck and makes you a fan of whatever team is being shown. It’s remarkable.
The history of Brazilian football is inlayed in the muscle fibers of the country. Brought here hundreds of years ago, it was originally thought to be reserved for elite, but eventually over time because of the game’s lack of equipment, it was picked up. It is widely popular in the favelas of the cities, and the Brazilian countryside as well. Every corner of the country understands the game, far more so than our baseball, basketball or football knowledge can be extended.
The yellow jersey means so much more to Brazil than anything we can comprehend. We all love the Bears or 49ers, maybe even the Patriots, but we don’t have that unifying support behind a national pass time. We’ve been overwhelmingly dominate for the longest time in sports like Basketball and American Football, that there is no competition, and as far as baseball’s “America’s pass time” is concerned, it’s played more in Central and South America than the United States. Soccer for these countries is all three of those sports combined. It’s what everyone plays, or understands. Everyone follows a team, and every four years, school shuts down so students can watch their God’s enter the arena to defend their country.
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