Tim Vickery Column: Uruguay helped Brazilian football find its own path

Scolari celebrating wouldn't have happened otherwise - Action Images
Luiz Felipe Scolari seems so at ease in the post of Brazil coach, and has made so much progress towards building a settled side, that it is easy to forget all the furore that surrounded his appointment towards the end of 2012.

Mano Menezes had been controversially sacked, and Scolari was quickly brought in as a replacement, with special haste needed to stop a fascinating rival candidate from building momentum. 

That, of course, was Pep Guardiola, who declared himself interested, leading Brazil’s sports daily ‘Lance!’ to organise a big campaign in his favour.

The prospect of a foreign coach in charge of the national team appeared to both terrify and horrify the old order. As Scolari was presented, CBF President Jose Maria Marin made an impassioned, if not always coherent, argument in favour of the need to give value to Brazilian coaches – who had, after all, presided over all five of Brazil’s World Cup wins.

 

I wonder if Marin is aware that the coach for the first of those victorious campaigns, back in 1958, was very nearly a Paraguayan.

 

Brisk, efficient and ambitious, Joao Havelange had taken charge of the CBD, forerunner of the CBF. His candidate to coach the national team was one of the legendary names of South American football of the time, Fleitas Solich. An international midfielder for Paraguay, Solich had coached in the land of his birth and in Argentina (and was later to have a season in charge of the great Real Madrid) when he landed in Rio in 1953 to become the boss of Flamengo.  He won the Rio State Championship, in those days a competition of great prestige, three times in a row. 

 

Havelange, whose power base was Rio, was impressed, and wanted to make Solich the coach of Brazil.

 

But Havelange needed to put together a coalition, especially with Sao Paulo.  And his great ally there was Paulo Machado de Carvalho, a media mogul and football director with links to Sao Paulo FC. Machado was to be the head of Brazil’s delegation in the World Cups of 1958 and 62. 

 

He listened to Havelange’s proposal, but had an alternative candidate – Vicente Feola, a coach he knew well from Sao Paulo.  Havelange gave way, and so the man who led Brazil to their first World Cup win was a squat son of Italian immigrants – but it could have been the elegant Paraguayan, and at the time, no one would have thought of this as being especially incongruous.

 

But once Brazil had started winning world titles, the idea of a foreign-born coach immediately began to look completely unrealistic – an idea to be grabbed at for the purposes of speculation when times were desperate, such as the moment when Brazil were struggling desperately to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, or when Menezes was sacked.

 

This was not the only thing that changed. It also seemed that history was rewritten. Now that it ended in so many triumphs, the story of Brazilian football was reinterpreted, told in isolation, removed from the continental context in which it had grown.

 

Because the striking thing in the early years is the extent to which the growth of the game was a collective South American phenomenon – or to be more precise, one based in the south cone, especially in the cities of Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Rio and Sao Paulo, with Asuncion and Santiago also involved.

 

Remarkably in a continent still deficient in terms of economic integration, the Copa America was held 12 times between 1916 and 29, when the Wall Street crash set off turbulent political waves and interrupted the process. These years were of massive growth in the popularity and the quality of the South American game, with Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil testing and learning from each other.

It is hardly surprising that Uruguay were the quickest out of the blocks. 

 

At the time they were not at so much of a disadvantage in terms of population size. Now when Uruguay take on Brazil it is a nation of 3 million against one of 200. Then it was Montevideo against Rio and Buenos Aires. And Uruguay’s early lead came from the fact that, quicker than the others, they were drawing on talent from all sectors of society. 

 

Football in South America started with the elite; it spread downwards quickly, but in Uruguay it was quicker than anywhere else.  The little country was full of progressive social legislation. It was the pioneer of the modern welfare state, and such ideas of social inclusion were reflected in the composition of the national team. 

 

Uruguay won the inaugural Copa America in 1916, and supplied the top goalscorer as well – Isabelino Gradin, a black striker from a poor background. It was very unlikely that someone with such a humble upbringing could have represented Brazil at the time.

 

Brazil won the trophy on home ground in 1919. But just as important as the triumph was the presence of Gradin in the Uruguayan team. Poor black Brazilians could recognise themselves in him more than they could in Brazil’s hero, Artur Friedenreich, son of a local black woman and a German immigrant, whose skin might have been dark but was from an impeccable middle class background. 

 

Gradin’s participation in the 1919 Copa is an important moment in the development of the Brazilian game. ‘If he can do it,’ thought the locals, ‘then so can we.’

 

Thirteen years later it was evident that this lesson had been well absorbed. In December 1932 Brazil went to play Uruguay, by now world and double Olympic champions, in Montevideo’s newly built Centenario stadium. Brazil won 2-1, and the best players were two young blacks from poor backgrounds, defender Domingos da Guia and centre forward Leonidas da Silva.

 

Uruguayan football had just turned professional. The Brazilian game, ridden with aristocratic amateur values, was reluctant to take the same step. So Uruguay’s big two clubs swooped. Penarol signed Leonidas and Nacional snapped up Domingos.

 

This was a significant external shock to Brazilian football, which, sensing the danger, soon accepted professionalism – definitely consolidating the position of the player from a poor background.  Without professionalism, there is no Pele.  The fact that there was Pele – the fact that today Luiz Felipe Scolari has so many fine players to choose from – is the outcome of these moments, of Brazilian football finding its own path, but in a clear South American context.

 



Latest articles

Dante and Rafinha upbeat after Munich's win against Manchester City

Ronaldinho misses penalty in first game for Queretaro

Carlos Dunga drops Thiago Silva

Brazil's Dunga defends Mario Fernandes

Dunga calls for continuity

Zenit forward Hulk praises team-mate Oleg Shatov's role in his goal against Benfica

Sampdoria forward Eder admits Palermo were interested in signing him this summer

Sampdoria forward Eder praises Head Coach Siniša Mihajlović

Roma defender Maicon refusing to get carried away despite emphatic CSKA Moscow victory

Dunga surprises with Dodo and Mario Fernandes

Vitinho of CSKA has been operated with success

Maxwell of PSG is thinking about retirement

Dunga set to announce squad for Argentina game

Luiz Gustavo is not moving to Arsenal

Hulk inspires Zenit St Petersburg to Champions League victory over Benfica

Dante: Bayern Munich boss Guardiola rarely speaks Spanish now

Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura: Zlatan Ibrahimović is crazy

Dante praises Bayern Munich’s Xabi Alonso but was surprised by move

Latest News.

  • All
  • Seleção
  • Teams
  • Players
September 18, 2014
14:29Dante and Rafinha upbeat after Munich's win against Manchester City
11:54Ronaldinho misses penalty in first game for Queretaro
11:49Carlos Dunga drops Thiago Silva
11:42Brazil's Dunga defends Mario Fernandes
11:36Dunga calls for continuity
September 17, 2014
22:25Zenit forward Hulk praises team-mate Oleg Shatov's role in his goal against Benfica
22:16Sampdoria forward Eder admits Palermo were interested in signing him this summer
22:13Sampdoria forward Eder praises Head Coach Siniša Mihajlović
22:08Roma defender Maicon refusing to get carried away despite emphatic CSKA Moscow victory
16:18Dunga surprises with Dodo and Mario Fernandes
15:15Vitinho of CSKA has been operated with success
14:29Maxwell of PSG is thinking about retirement
14:12Fc Barcelona's Douglas might feature against Apoel
12:17Dunga set to announce squad for Argentina game
11:50Luiz Gustavo is not moving to Arsenal
10:00Hulk inspires Zenit St Petersburg to Champions League victory over Benfica
09:30Dante: Bayern Munich boss Guardiola rarely speaks Spanish now
08:30Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura: Zlatan Ibrahimović is crazy
08:30Dante praises Bayern Munich’s Xabi Alonso but was surprised by move
08:00Barcelona defender Piqué praises Neymar and Messi
September 16, 2014
23:27Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz admits he is a "disorganised" player
23:23Internacional legend Elías Figueroa hails fellow Chilean Charles Aranguiz
23:18Flamengo forward Eduardo admits he feels "like a foreigner" in Brazil
23:11Luiz Gustavo insists he is happy at VfL Wolfsburg
23:06Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Shakhtar Donetsk midfielders Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa
14:47Assis: "Ronaldinho wanted a new challenge"
11:53Alex Sandro returns to fitness
11:42Dunga is the right man according to Mauro Silva
11:31Gabigol signs new deal with Santos
08:30‘Scoring goals is scoring goals,’ admits Chelsea ace Diego Costa
08:00Chelsea’s Diego Costa: There will be a moment when I cannot score
07:45Mourinho admits Diego Costa is already a leader at Chelsea
07:30Coutinho backs Liverpool ace Sterling to shine for club and country
07:00Liverpool’s Coutinho: Sterling will be a star in Europe
September 15, 2014
20:06Ronaldo Defends Aranha
19:57Ronaldinho Settled in Mexico
19:49Diego Costa Could Face Punishment
19:30Marcelo Oliveira: São Paulo Deserved to Win
19:00Tite Surprised at Dunga Brazil Choice
18:38Milan give injury update on defender Alex
18:27Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho would be open to signing new deal
18:21Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho notes English sides were interested in Benfica star Talisca
18:11Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu expects Alex to quickly become key at Milan
14:00Mourinho praises Benfica's Talisca Anderson
13:54Quaretaro defends Ronaldinho against racist remarks
12:55Sao Paulo keeps title hopes alive with 2-0 win against Cruzeiro
12:46Corinthians warns its fans
September 14, 2014
09:59Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Barcelona forward Neymar
09:54Ronaldinho motivated to succeed with Queretaro
09:50Ronaldinho insists he won't change his lifestyle at Queretaro
September 10, 2014
17:10Head Coach Dunga blames MetLife Stadium pitch for mixed Brazil performance in 1-0 win over Ecuador
September 09, 2014
18:35Alex Sandro eager for Brazil to move on from 7-1 defeat Germany
September 08, 2014
19:12Cruzeiro midfielder Everton Ribeiro praises Brazil Head Coach Dunga
18:57Brazil midfielder Everton Ribeiro pleased with Colombia win and hopes for further success against Ecuador
September 06, 2014
21:04Colombia Head Coach Jose Pekerman admits Juan Cuadrado red card was costly in friendly defeat to Brazil
August 29, 2014
22:27Dunga expects Brazil to recover
August 20, 2014
16:56Interim Brazil Assistant Coach Mauro Silva believes Dunga is the right man to revive the Seleção
August 12, 2014
23:04Brazil Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo intrigued by World Cup tactical trends
23:00Selecao Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo believes it will be difficult for Brazil to collectively improve
18:03Brazilian flair to win European Fantasy League in 2014/15
August 11, 2014
23:19Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo compares Brazil with Germany
August 09, 2014
22:34Alexandre Gallo: Germany an example, but Brazilians don't have the same patience
August 08, 2014
22:47Brazil Under-20 Head Coach Alexandre Gallo hopes more attention will be paid to youth system
August 07, 2014
13:27Dunga takes Brazil back to the future
July 23, 2014
17:02Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hoping for Seleção return under Dunga
July 19, 2014
23:19Gerard Houllier explains why Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball
23:13Neymar believes Brazil can learn from Germany and Spain
23:07Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli welcomes introduction of vanishing spray into Serie A after World Cup success
July 14, 2014
23:57FIFA President Sepp Blatter denies involvement in selection of Lionel Messi as Golden Ball winner
23:48FIFA Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke expects Russia and Qatar World Cups to match Brazil
23:13Maicon philosophical over Brazil World Cup disappointment
July 13, 2014
23:44Fred hopes Fluminense will give him time off after World Cup disappointment
23:41Fred confirms he has retired from international football
09:54Sambafoot Sunday: Brazil's 2014 World Cup Fallout: New Failures
July 12, 2014
23:51Joachim Low: Germany can be the first European nation to win in Latin America
23:48Dunga: Germany played as a unit
23:44Thiago Silva left frustrated by Netherlands defeat
23:35Oscar has "horrible feeling" after Netherlands defeat
July 11, 2014
22:50Germany forward Thomas Muller looking forward to playing in the Maracana
July 09, 2014
23:55Neymar agent Wagner Ribeiro makes astonishing attack of Luiz Felipe Scolari
23:51Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insists Germany defeat "not all bad"
23:48Cafu refused entry to Brazil dressing room after Germany defeat
15:30Tim Vickery Column: A look at Brazil’s capitulation against Germany and what now for Luiz Felipe Scolari
July 08, 2014
23:59Luiz Felipe Scolari: “Who is responsible for this result? I am, it’s me”
23:55Germany forward Miroslav Klose "truly happy" to break Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record
23:50Julio Cesar struggles to comprehend Brazil defeat
23:39Brazil 1-7 Germany: Ruthless Germany tear Seleção apart to secure historic semi-final victory
23:29Brazil 1-7 Germany: Player ratings
20:10Brazil v Germany: line-ups
July 07, 2014
22:25Brazil legend Amarildo believes Neymar absence could work to the Selecao's advantage against Germany
22:22Germany Head Coach Joachim Low wary of "robust" Brazil
22:05Maicon disappointed with refereeing on Neymar challenge
July 06, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Ney Problem - Can Brazil Cope Without Neymar?
July 05, 2014
23:45Argentina forward Lionel Messi aiming for the World Cup final
23:30Medic insists vertebra injury will not compromise Neymar’s career
July 04, 2014
23:59Thiago Silva defends emotional Brazil
23:55James Rodriguez: David Luiz told me I was a good player
23:50David Luiz looks forward to "classic" encounter with Germany
23:47David Luiz: Colombia would have gone further if they “hadn't come up against Brazil”
15:34Luiz Felipe Scolari feels Brazil’s lack of a rivalry with Colombia will allow his players to be “more at ease'
June 26, 2014
14:33Report: Flamengo one of eight clubs who have enquired about loaning Internazionale midfielder Rubén Botta
June 16, 2014
11:35Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backs Portugal to recovery from heavy Germany defeat
June 09, 2014
23:18Italy forward Lorenzo Insigne insists Italy’s poor defending in victory against Fluminense is “not important”
23:12Italy forward Ciro Immobile “excited” with hat-trick against Fluminense
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
October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
September 14, 2013
14:29Guerrero: Corinthians can still be champions
September 11, 2013
20:49Roberto Carlos: Anzhi could collapse
14:57Exeter City play down Brazil fears
September 07, 2013
14:12Atlético Madrid's Filipe Luis: Barca-Madrid dominance an injustice
September 06, 2013
19:04Santos announce tour of South East Asia
18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
September 05, 2013
19:17Cruzeiro go four points clear after defeating Bahia
18:43Romário and Maradona fight against CONMEBOL corruption
September 03, 2013
21:29Marcelo Mattos says Botafogo will overcome difficulties
20:54Réver believes Atlético Mineiro can challenge for Brazilian title
September 02, 2013
23:21São Paulo to honour Brazil legend Leonidas da Silva
September 17, 2014
22:25Zenit forward Hulk praises team-mate Oleg Shatov's role in his goal against Benfica
22:16Sampdoria forward Eder admits Palermo were interested in signing him this summer
22:13Sampdoria forward Eder praises Head Coach Siniša Mihajlović
22:08Roma defender Maicon refusing to get carried away despite emphatic CSKA Moscow victory
September 16, 2014
23:27Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz admits he is a "disorganised" player
23:23Internacional legend Elías Figueroa hails fellow Chilean Charles Aranguiz
23:18Flamengo forward Eduardo admits he feels "like a foreigner" in Brazil
23:11Luiz Gustavo insists he is happy at VfL Wolfsburg
23:06Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Shakhtar Donetsk midfielders Alex Teixeira and Douglas Costa
September 15, 2014
18:38Milan give injury update on defender Alex
18:27Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho would be open to signing new deal
18:21Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho notes English sides were interested in Benfica star Talisca
18:11Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu expects Alex to quickly become key at Milan
September 14, 2014
09:59Athletic Bilbao Head Coach Ernesto Valverde hails Barcelona forward Neymar
09:54Ronaldinho motivated to succeed with Queretaro
09:50Ronaldinho insists he won't change his lifestyle at Queretaro
09:45Fluminense forward Fred insists World Cup disappointment is "in the past"
09:39Fluminense forward Fred insists jeering motivates him
September 13, 2014
22:33Flamengo forward Eduardo notes Brazilian football is growing in Croatia and Ukraine
22:26Flamengo forward Eduardo admits he thought the Brasileirão "would be easy"
22:20Real Madrid defender Pepe bemoans set-piece deficiencies
22:12Palermo loanee Emerson hails Alex Sandro and notes Robinho and Felipe Anderson persuaded him to make Serie A switch
22:10Palermo loanee Emerson eager to learn in Serie A
September 12, 2014
18:34Chelsea owned midfielder Lucas Piazon admits he could be open to permanent Eintracht Frankfurt switch
17:35Pele confident Lionel Messi can still win the World Cup
17:01Genoa not expecting FIFA sanctions over Anselmo transfer
16:14Ronaldinho hopes to keep winning at Queretaro
16:02Ronaldinho admits Rafa Marquez influenced his decision to join Queretaro
September 10, 2014
17:04Agent admits Maicon's Brazil career is likely to be over
16:59Sao Paulo loanee Alexandre Pato confirms he returned to Brazil to overcome injury problems
16:53Alexandre Pato blames medics for Milan demise
16:46Agent confirms Brazil are interesting in capping Napoli midfielder Jorginho
September 09, 2014
18:26Danilo praises new Porto Head Coach Julen Lopetegui
18:23Alex Sandro pleased with Porto's start to the season
17:44Maxwell confident Paris Saint-Germain can push Barcelona in the Champions League
16:00Paris Saint-Germain defender Maxwell hails time at Barcelona
September 08, 2014
18:23Miranda happy his stayed at Atletico Madrid
17:05Miranda: Atletico Madrid "has to fight for trophies"
16:44Atletico Madrid defender Miranda is pleased with the club's summer signings
16:00Casemiro expects strong Real Madrid
September 06, 2014
20:59Internazionale midfielder Hernanes praises team-mate Mateo Kovacic
20:56Internazionale defender Juan Jesus hails team-mate Mateo Kovacic
20:48Queretaro welcome new signing Ronaldinho
September 05, 2014
21:50Juan Jesus very happy at Internazionale
21:44Atletico Mineiro forward Diego Tardelli expected to start for Brazil against Colombia
21:36Cesc Fabregas backs Chelsea team-mate Diego Costa to come good for Spain
21:32Dunga: Neymar is Brazil's reference point
21:28Agent hopes Antonio Conte calls up Brazilian born Napoli midfielder Jorginho
September 03, 2014
19:41Barcelona defender Douglas hopes to adapt quickly to the pace of European football
19:38New signing Douglas admits he has to harder at Barcelona
Paris Saint-Germain    Onze Mondial Football Ukraine    Sport Consulting    
To the top