Tim Vickery Column: The answer and the change occuring in Brazil ahead of the World Cup

For Tim Vickery, what happens with the protest movement this summer will help forge a new Brazil - Action Images
This website might be called Sertanejo-foot. It would be an awkward name, but not inappropriate.

Sertanejo – the local country music – is certainly more popular in Brazil than samba.  Surveys reveal that it is the type of music most played on Brazilian radio stations.  But there is no space for this in the international perception of Brazil.  Some of the contestants in the local version of ‘Big Brother’ – a ratings sensation in Brazil for almost a decade and a half – have played it up for all it is worth, donning cowboy hats in their attempt to project a down to earth, rustic and folksy image.  One of them even rode that horse all the way to the millionaire first prize.

All of this would come as a huge shock to the millions abroad who might imagine that Brazil in its entirety, from the luscious sands of Leblon to the giant favela of Rocinha, can be found in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro.

There is much more to the story, both good and bad – and this year, as never before, the world will have the chance to discover this giant country – either as tourists and fans coming over to football’s big party, or viewers of the many TV shows on Brazil that will fill up time and whet the appetite before the tournament gets underway.

One of the things that might become apparent is the extent to which the country has been mythologised, both internally and externally.  For many foreigners – the French seem to have a specific weakness for this line of approach – Brazil represents the exotic, the wild, the exuberant.  Samba fits nicely into this perception.  The banality of country music does not.

But Brazil has also been relentlessly mythologised from the inside, for obvious reasons.  First, this is a young country – not just in the sense of being ‘discovered’ by the Europeans little more than 500 years ago, but also in the fact that, as DNA research is making increasingly clear, its population was transformed by large scale late immigration from Europe and the Middle East in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This, then, was a country in need of a national identity.  Indeed, perhaps the principal explanation for the importance of football in Brazilian life is that through the World Cup their nation is making its mark on the planet, so often as winners.

But also this national identity had to be forged in a society of massive inequality.  Therein lies the importance of samba to the national image.  The relatively benign tropical fascism of the Getulio Vargas regime in the 1930s and 40s transformed samba into a national soundtrack – after first censoring its content.

As samba developed in Rio, then the capital, in the early decades of the twentieth century, the musicians were often persecuted.  The Vargas regime put a stop to that.  They became national icons (it is sadly interesting that the two moments when black Brazilians have been most central to the national identity have coincided with dictatorial regimes – the samba musicians with Vargas, and Pele with the military dictatorship in the late 60s).  But, to get played on the powerful, glamorous and important new medium of radio, their songs started extolling the virtues of an orderly life.  The government began subsidising the parade of the samba schools in Rio’s Carnaval – after first ensuring that the theme had to be a celebration of Brazil.  The idea of Brazil as a land of happiness was a conscious creation of- and clearly interesting to - an authoritarian regime.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the protest movement that flared up last June and July was the discontent that many of those involved expressed for the myths of their nationhood.  Members of Brazil’s new middle class had been able to travel abroad for the first time.  Some of them had been irritated by the instant identification of Brazil with football and carnival.  Indeed, this feeling would seem to explain some of the ferocity demonstrated against public spending on football tournaments.  In part, perhaps, it was a psychological desire on the part of the protestors to distance themselves from myths that have been spun around them.  We would seem to be dealing with a generation which is anxious to create its own identity.

Of course the protest movement contained some excesses, and also worrying fascistic trends whereby political parties per se were seen as the enemy.  How can there be a democracy without the organisation of competing ideas?  ‘My party is Brazil’ – a slogan that cropped up during the protests – is not an answer.

But on balance, the process was not only healthy, it was inspirational.  By taking to the streets such numbers Brazilians confounded a myth they had held about themselves – that they are a passive people, easily duped into tolerating arrogant and inept government.

To be in Brazil during the Confederations Cup was to watch a country changing in front of our own eyes.  The Brazil of May 2013 is not coming back.  Exactly where we are heading is not yet clear.  What happens with the protest movement this June and July will help forge a new Brazil – which means that fans coming over for the World Cup are in for an unforgettable experience.

We all hope it will be a wonderful tournament – football needs a great World Cup.  And off the pitch there should be an international party, plus an internal dynamic of progress that is hard to predict.  Visitors to Brazil will be witnesses to history – and may even go home with a few sertanejo CDs.

 

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March 26, 2015
22:59Ruthless Brazil defeat France 3-1 in Paris
20:41Live: France vs Brazil
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13:34Neymar won't convince Manchester United target Danilo to sign for Barcelona
13:32Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool have a good chance of securing a top-four
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12:05Diego Costa: 'Christmas fixture list took its toll'
11:56Rafael faces a fight to get back into the Manchester United line up
11:48Stefano Fiore: 'Anderson is better than Coutinho'
11:41Chelsea's Diego Costa criticises English defenders
11:34Lucas Leiva steps up his recovery from injury
March 25, 2015
17:17Report: Arsenal and Chelsea to battle over Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz
16:29Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano hints at December exit
15:56Sampdoria forward Eder believes controversy over Italy call up is "nonsense"
13:01Leonardo: 'Not enough Brazilian managers in Europe'
13:00Kaká thinks he was better than Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
13:00Neymar - The most expensive player in history?
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12:45Philippe Coutinho: 'Liverpool can make the top four'
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12:20John Aldridge: 'Liverpool are too reliant on Philippe Coutinho'
March 24, 2015
21:22Lucas Moura soon to return to full fitness at PSG
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13:00Neymar looks forward to the friendly against France
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12:30Chelsea aim to swap Oscar with Pogba
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12:10Diego Costa pulls out of Spanish squad
March 23, 2015
18:44U17: Brazil vs Uruguay
18:21Brazil 'au grand complet' in Paris ahead of France friendly
18:15Neymar admits he is tired after win against Real Madrid
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March 26, 2015
13:35Dunga says 1998 World Cup final defeat to France still hurts
13:34Neymar won't convince Manchester United target Danilo to sign for Barcelona
13:32Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool have a good chance of securing a top-four
13:30Dunga says sky is the limit for Neymar
13:28Neymar's father defends Barcelona deal
March 25, 2015
13:00Kaká's dream XI revealed; Messi not included
13:00Roberto Firmino set to start for Brazil against France
13:00Danilo proud of Real Madrid interest
13:00Neymar - The most expensive player in history?
13:00Kaká thinks he was better than Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
March 24, 2015
13:00Neymar looks forward to the friendly against France
13:00Bayern will not sell Dante, insists Sammer
13:00Luis Suárez: 'Neymar is right to be selfish'
13:00Marcelo says Real Madrid will never surrender
13:00Neymar case - Public prosecutor requests prison sentence for Sandro Rosell and Bartomeu
March 23, 2015
13:00Liverpool landlord: 'I beat Pele - and bit him too!'
13:00Liverpool target Felipe Anderson's contract renewed by Lazio
13:00Dani Alves assists winning goal in El Clásico
13:00Messi is better than Cristiano, says Pelé
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March 21, 2015
13:00Arsenal want Charles Aránguiz from Internacional
13:00Messi, Suárez and Neymar have scored 55 league goals this season
13:00Former West Brom striker faces ban after crossing Dani Alves' ex-wife
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March 20, 2015
13:00Zé Roberto talks about his Copa América memories and how he maintains fitness at the age of 40
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March 19, 2015
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March 18, 2015
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March 17, 2015
13:00Arsenal's Alexis included in Chile's squad for friendly against Brazil; Palmeiras' Valdivia will be unavailable
13:00Lucas Silva backs Real Madrid's Danilo pursuit
13:00Felipe Anderson's double sees Lazio close the gap on AS Roma
13:00Cafú believes Thiago Silva is crucial for Brazil
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March 16, 2015
13:00Arsenal's Alexis Sánchez still haunted by Chile's World Cup exit to Brazil
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January 19, 2015
20:37Willian: 'Chelsea controlled the game'
January 11, 2015
19:49Coritiba confirm the signings of Negueba and Pedro Ken
17:17De Arrascaeta to Internacional can be announced any time now, says Defensor president
January 04, 2015
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January 03, 2015
12:16Sergei Palkin: It’s important for us to play with the top teams of the Brazilian league
January 02, 2015
16:49Cruzeiro confirm survey from Mexico regarding Anselmo Ramon
15:28Internacional have competition from Europe for De Arrascaeta
14:16No contacts with Internacional, says Sandro's agent
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December 30, 2014
17:18Fluminense director says no offer for Darío Conca
December 25, 2014
14:37Leandro Damião to Cruzeiro is back on
June 26, 2014
14:33Report: Flamengo one of eight clubs who have enquired about loaning Internazionale midfielder Rubén Botta
June 16, 2014
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June 09, 2014
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22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
22:52Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli delighted with Brazilian support
June 07, 2014
23:32Italy line up confirmed for Fluminense friendly
May 19, 2014
22:13Portugal Manager Paulo Bento names his 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
May 18, 2014
19:09Sambafoot Sunday: Botafogo's Shaky Start to 2014
April 13, 2014
08:34Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Clubs' Libertadores Numbers Game
April 06, 2014
09:20Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm
February 14, 2014
12:23Shakhtar Donetsk: President decided to support Maicon’s family
February 09, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Where’s Wallyson? Botafogo find their new hero post-Seedorf
January 26, 2014
10:09Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
11:39Brasileirão Week 36 round up: Vasco shock champions to stay in contention while defeat leaves Ponte Preta on the brink
November 24, 2013
10:17Sambafoot Sunday: Palmeiras Promoted with Chapecoense in Tow
November 17, 2013
12:00Palmeiras secure Brasileirão Série B title with 3-0 win against Boa Esporte
November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
12:59Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
November 04, 2013
13:04Brasileirão week 32 round-up: Big win for Vasco as in-form Goiás maintain top four push
November 03, 2013
17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
October 28, 2013
11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
October 21, 2013
13:21Olympique Marseille without defender Lucas Mendes for Napoli fixture
12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
23:50São Paulo president Juvenal Juvêncio admits interest in Lucas Moura loan return
October 18, 2013
11:47Diego Maradona dispute’s Pelé’s FIFA recognition
09:04Del Bosque: Costa approach no insult to current strikers
October 17, 2013
21:43Hard work is paying off insists Bayern Munich defender Rafinha
13:17Rodrigo Lasmar: Ronaldinho on track to be fit for the Club World Cup
October 16, 2013
19:53Report: Tottenham Hotspur set to offer Paulinho extended deal
09:12Report: São Paulo could terminate Lúcio’s contract if injury concerns prevail
October 13, 2013
18:32Brasileirão: Grêmio slip up as Vitoria and Santos grab victories
14:49Vanderlei Luxemburgo: ‘Simulation part of football’
October 09, 2013
20:37Mineiro learn Club World Cup fate
October 06, 2013
22:39Oswaldo de Oliveira in hospital after Botafogo defeat
11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
March 25, 2015
17:17Report: Arsenal and Chelsea to battle over Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz
16:29Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano hints at December exit
15:56Sampdoria forward Eder believes controversy over Italy call up is "nonsense"
March 23, 2015
17:00FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio defends decision to select Sampdoria forward Eder for Italy
17:00Agent unhappy with controversy surrounding Sampdoria forward Eder's selection for Italy
March 22, 2015
15:28Corinthians Head Coach Tite hails defender Gil following Brazil call up
13:32Philippe Coutinho insists Liverpool "will do everything to come out victorious" against Manchester United
12:54Agent Andrea Bagnoli admits Italy call up is a "dream come true" for Sampdoria forward Éder
March 19, 2015
17:15Chelsea use former player Deco to sign Fluminense's star
March 18, 2015
14:05Report: Internazionale step up pursuit of Corinthians forward Paolo Guerrero
13:58Almeria loanee Wellington Silva confident of making an impression at Arsenal next season
13:54Report: Midfielder Wellington Silva in talks with Arsenal over new contract
March 17, 2015
21:48Manchester United have become latest English club to watch Roberto Firmino
20:45Twente almost signed Chelsea's Diego Costa
17:42Palmeiras Head Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira explains why midfielder Jorge Valdivia will not link up with Chile
17:37Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson hopes for Brazil call up and closes in on new contract
17:28Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson believes in Champions League qualification
March 16, 2015
12:33Intermediary Eduardo Valdes confirms Chelsea and Juventus interest in Fluminense forward Kenedy
12:23Intermediary Eduardo Valdes suggests São Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato will eventually move to England or Italy
March 15, 2015
21:10Report: Chelsea agree €25.3 million deal for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa
21:05Report: Sampdoria forward Eder to be called up by Italy Head Coach Antonio Conte
March 13, 2015
17:08Report: Proposal made to add play-offs to Brasileirão campaign has presidential support
15:56Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho insists he missed Leicester City game due to injury and looks to Burnley
15:05Defender Felipe admits Internazionale move happened quickly
14:04Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho explains alleged altercation with captain Vincent Kompany
13:12Marcelo Fernandes named as new Santos Head Coach
March 11, 2015
16:52Report: Barcelona consider Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa as possible replacement for Pedro
15:38Corinthians Head Coach Tite believes goalkeeper Cássio Ramos deserves Brazil call up
14:43São Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato disappointed to be barred from playing against owners Corinthians
14:04Forward Luiz Adriano does not expect Shakhtar Donetsk to be intimidated when they face Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena
13:05Atlético de Madrid midfielder Cristian Rodríguez arrives in Brazil after agreeing to join Grêmio on loan
March 10, 2015
19:07Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc wary of "provocative" Chelsea forward Diego Costa
17:42Report: Manchester United submit bid for Fluminense forward Kenedy
17:34Report: Roma defender Maicon could return for Europa League tie against Fiorentina
15:05EXCLUSIVE-Wellington Silva: "I am ready now to play for Arsenal"
March 08, 2015
21:24Report: Manchester United continue to push for Fluminense starlet Kenedy
21:16Santos loanee Robinho delighted to earn Brazil recall
21:11Parma loanee Cristian Rodriguez suggests he is set to move on to Gremio.
March 05, 2015
17:52Report: Liverpool to target Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello rather than Fiorentina's Neto
16:55Gilberto Silva hopes Arsenal can keep winning despite lack of big spending
16:15Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva insists Mesut Özil must improve
March 04, 2015
16:00Former Arsenal forward Ian Wright hails influence of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho
March 03, 2015
17:29Agent Alex Firmino expects on loan Juventus midfielder Rômulo to sort his future "in the next week"
16:02Former Arsenal midfielder Edu sees "Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay" as 2015 Copa América favourites
14:55Ronaldo explains to Diego Maradona why he is coming out of retirement to play for Fort Lauderdale Strikers
13:54Agent Stefano Castagna believes midfielder Felipe Anderson will stay at Lazio
13:09Real Betis forward Braian Rodríguez set to join Grêmio on loan
March 02, 2015
18:39LA Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant outlines key role midfielder Juninho plays
18:29Report: Corinthians, Cruzeiro and São Paulo eye Manchester United full-back Rafael
18:14Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen hails team-mate Philippe Coutinho
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