Football is the most important of unimportant things, said Arrigo Sacchi, who was a coach without having been a player. When asked if this wasn’t a problem, he said that to be a jockey, the guy doesn’t have to have been a horse.
I like football a lot, especially when it’s not just football anymore. In 1994, when Romário, at 1.68 meters tall, scored a head goal against the 1.90 meter Swedes, that wasn’t football. It was the redemption of the little ones all over the world. Wit could beat size, trickery could double physical strength. It wasn’t about reaching the highest place, but about waiting in the right place.
A world opened up for me, small since I was little. “Being ready is everything,” Hamlet would say, and when I heard that, all I was thinking about was Romário.
In 1998, an undefeated and infallible team (for me) entered the field as a favorite and took it from three to zero. It wasn’t just football, it had a finger from Almeida’s Sobrenatural — I learned in that game to count on the inexplicable.
In 2002, Brazil was beating the German machine with Ronaldo with husky hair and Rivaldo making light cutters. Zeca Pagodinho sang “Deixa a Vida Me Levar” and Brazil elected its first working-class president. Everything seemed interconnected, even if it wasn’t. I was sure of one thing: it wasn’t just football.
In 2010, the selection ended up in the hands of Dunga — that horse that was never a jockey. Felipe Melo scores our first own goal in the history of the World Cups and then steps, dirty, on the thigh of Robben, the Dutch ace.
There, too, it was no longer just football. It felt like the harbinger of 2014—the seven-to-one that spawned the last seven years. The team’s shirt started to mean something else. I’ll never understand, but it was after our biggest international embarrassment that the right took over the uniform, as if to say: okay, this is the Brazil I want. The identification took place in vexation.
This week, the Brazilian team had the chance to wash this shirt stained with blood, sweat and shame. If they had chosen not to play in honor of the 500,000 dead, and of the many to come, they would have washed their shirt against the own goal, the stomp on the thigh, the seven to one, the marches calling for military intervention, the rottenness of the Marin, the banditry of Del Nero, of Caboclo’s filth, of the millions evaded by its greatest ace.
They prefer to continue withholding. Maybe they argue: it’s just football. It’s not just football. Never was.
LINK PRESENT: Did you like this column? Subscriber can release five free hits of any link per day. Just click on the blue F below.