{FAVEL issues}

Favela and Futebol

Intro Post by Fernando Luiz Lara

Two of Brazil’s most famous characteristics, futebol and the favela have its roots intertwined from way back. After the British brought what is now most popular sport of the planet to South America about 115 years ago, it was initially adopted by the elite. Around the same time, in the first years of the 20th century’s, the occupation of a hill in downtown Rio created its first favela. Once the game reached the Brazilian peripheries, it broke away with the European formalism and transformed itself in the exuberant game now well known. Soccer and favelas are the highlights of the famous (or infamous) Brazilian informality.

The histories of Brazilian soccer and Brazilian favelas go hand in hand throughout the century. As Brazil prepares to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014, those histories have become more intertwined than ever. As I write these lines I am afraid that decades of participatory processes and community empowerment are being pushed aside with the excuse that Brazil is in a hurry to build the infrastructure for the World Cup ( in 14 different cities) and the Olympic games in Rio.

What I propose here is to chronicle the history of Brazilian informal settlements in parallel with the history of the Brazilian Seleção (national soccer team). From the first years of the 20th century, to 1938, the great disaster of 1950, the redemption in 1958, the marvelous team of 1970, the loss in 1982, pragmatism winning in 1994 and again in 2002…

All of this, in 10 installments, to be able to explain why I am so worried that the World Cup and the Olympics are being used to dismantle decades of progressive engagement in the favelas of Brazil.