Soccer and Brazilian popular music

O futebol e a música popular brasileira

El fútbol y la música popular brasileña




***Bolsista de Iniciação Cientifica/UFES


Prof. Dr. Luiz dos Anjos*

Juliana Saneto**

Keyla Sousa Jardim***







          The purpose of the study is to analyze artistic productions, specifically Brazilian popular music, soccer, and their political relations. The study assists discussions in sociological character disciplines of Graduate courses in Physical Education. We have prepared classifications following by the Análise do Discurso (Discourse Analysis) method, according to Orlandi (1999), identifying political, social and cultural categories existing in the lyrics of songs/music. The study revealed that among artistic popular music by using soccer expresses the social and political conditions of the time when it was composed.

          Keywords: Soccer. Popular music. Brazilian society.



          O objetivo do estudo é analisar as produções artísticas, especificamente a música popular brasileira, futebol e suas relações políticas. O estudo se justifica por subsidiar discussões em disciplinas de caráter sociológico de cursos de Graduação e Pós-Graduação em Educação Física. Classificamos as músicas amparado na Análise do Discurso de acordo com Orlandi (1999). Identificamos as categorias políticas, sociais e culturais existentes nas letras de canções / músicas. O estudo revelou que, a música popular usando o futebol expressa as condições sociais e políticas do momento em que foi composta.

          Unitermos: Futebol. Música popular. Sociedad brasileña.


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Año 16, Nº 161, Octubre de 2011. http://www.efdeportes.com/

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    The meaning of analyzing soccer in Brazil, in historical periods is to try to understand the relation between soccer, political contexts and artistic production that serving itself of the latter has complex analysis interpretations. Specifically, the interest is to understand what use has been made of soccer in different moments of its history.

    When we propose this relation between soccer and artistic production, we do not intend to reduce soccer practice to political issues as if soccer resulted from issues that are permeated by political events, but to show how there is a relation to certain political contexts, almost direct. The approach of this study is written in the field of social culture, assuming to understand soccer development from a political action field that is at the same time isolated and collective.

Object and justification of study

    Introducing the object of study, we are going to analyze artistic productions, among this popular music that constitutes a cultural expression instrument that appropriates itself of sports as inspiration for its productions. Speaking of artistic expression, they culturally represent different dimensions of a socio-cultural context, in other words, they translate, interpret, reinforce and/or stress political pressures and anxieties of a society, according to Melo (2010). Further justifying, graduate courses in physical education having as a formation axis sports, they have in their curricula/ course schedules disciplines that point out to a discussion of sports and society and in their contents soccer appears with more presence, due to the existence of bibliographic sources and research discussing and having as an object this sports modality. The purposes have pointed out the need for studying the popular music and soccer relation, in Brazilian society in the period from 1970 to 2000.


    For this study, we have resorted to bibliographic sources about objects that deal with the sports, society relation, specifically soccer, and its interlocutions with society. To that end, the delimitation of the study will take place with the search for artistic productions that portray soccer and culture; soccer and society; and we will perform a theoretical and interpretative treatment, classifying artistic production, seeking in bibliographic sources of what has already been produced within proposed theme.

Soccer, music and social and political contexts

    When dealing with using soccer in artistic productions, we start the discussion in a social political tone as of the 1960s, precisely at the end of this decade. At this time, not only soccer as a national sports as well as other instances were permeated by attempts to use the governments of the time, which by promoting public policies proposed to spread ideals to Brazilian society.

    We wonder, at this time whether sports, and, in the case, soccer has or not a degree of independence or whether it is possible to day or reduces soccer or another sports results to the purposes of political utilization? Soccer and its sports are contained in a floating tension scales. Therein, we understanding that continuity of an ideology-making process by sports are also floating and discontinued, taking into account that, tunes and songs that formerly were held ideology-making apparatuses, today are constituted in Brazilian society’s imagination.

Artistic productions and their soccer interpretations

    We will start with songs and tunes that have sought to enhance the situation of Brazil in growth and development and seeking in soccer a national unity contagion. We will classify song/tunes According to the categories and concepts found in lyrics of compositions. Generally, when speaking about songs and music portraying Brazilian soccer, we can refer to its close rhythmical relation with samba, an e important aesthetical element of Brazilian culture. Analytically, songs referring to soccer present relations to clubs, players and idols, the national team and tunes/songs that deals with soccer as a national culture.

    Throughout the 20th century, popular music and soccer have become two great e o icons of Brazilian identity. The two symbols of the nationality or Brazilian-ness” fall upon in direct manner on the majority of the population in order to increase its self-esteem, mainly when the national team plays, in World Cup or not time. The prestige of popular music and referring feats of Brazilian soccer in World Cups work as a kind of counterbalance to the wide disbelief of political institutions, moral conduct standards and economic rising outlooks in our society (HOLLANDA, 2003). World Cups, however, are the greatest source of songs composed to cheer up the supporters/Brazilian society before the competition, creating a pre-Cup expectation climate that also benefits commercial interests and has historically favored and interested the government of the time.

    Speaking here about government political interests, the well-known song Prá frente, Brasil (Forward Brazil), by Miguel Gustavo, in 1970. This much-criticized song has elements in its lyrics and music that have made it emblematic, showing a very different political and social face from what the song evidences in its lyrics. The 1970 World Cup theme music brought a feeling of nationalism with the hope that one day Brazil will come out right. The lyrics of the song “Pra frente Brasil” leads to imagine that the nation was on the right track, because, Noventa milhões em ação/ Pra frente Brasil/ Do meu coração/ Todos juntos vamos/ Pra frente Brasil/ Salve a Seleção [...] (Ninety million in action/ Forward Brazil/ From my heart/ We all go together/ Forward Brazil/ Save the National Team [...]).

    The lyrics are quite clear about the appeal to the population that should unite to go forward and not to let the chain break: “noventa milhões em ação... É aquela corrente pra frente... Parece que todo Brasil deu a mão...” (ninety million in action... It is that chain forward... It seems that all of Brazil has joined hands...), making an analogy of the national soccer team with the government fight against the “opposition to the Regime”.

    This and other situations deserve to be explained. Let us go to the historical facts. In 1969, João Saldanha was the National Team coach and qualifies Brazil. The political situation in the country was tense and AI5 (Ato Institucional número 5) (Institutional Act number 5) was established, an act imposed by then President of the period from 1967 to 1969, which practically choked free expression rights by repressing social movement actions. The association of soccer with society was one of the forms used in the search for recognition of Brazilians’ identity and this memory started to take effect discursively in 1938 and was materialized with the Cup, in 1970 (PAZ, 2009).

    According to Eric Hobsbawm and Terence (1997), a manner used for integration of individuals occurred through sports, which, oftentimes throughout history was established as a social demarcation factor, as a “meeting mechanism of people with equivalent social status” (p. 307). Serving as a form of identification of individuals, as the authors state “the rising of sports provided new expressions of nationalism through the choice or invention of national specific sports” (p. 309). Being aware of their effectiveness, the governments appropriated themselves of sports and, so as it served a specific class, it was also used for recognition of individuals as a nation.

    In 1970, soccer in Brazil had already been transformed into a metaphor of a nation, in the people manifestation, invented as national passion. In the 1970s, aiming at social consensus, identity and national participation ideals were disclosed. Appreciation of soccer as a people integration element, capable of establishing an aura of harmony in Brazilian population, is often found in the press speeches songs of the time. These discursive constructions are affiliated to sense networks that seek to s transmit ideas of equality and integration in society. Thus, when defining soccer, it is possible to identify the discursive action of a magazine:

    Uma arte popular e barata: o futebol não requer alfabetização, duas pedras fazem o gol, uma bola faz o jôgo. [...] São mais de 10000 partidas a cada domingo, da qual participam ou já participaram 85% dos brasileiros. Toda a população, assim, é parte ativa no processo de criação dessa arte que é o futebol.

    Por isso é possível o acordo entre o intelectual e o semi-analfabeto, sôbre a beleza deste ou daquele gol. Todos têm direito e condição para opinar, e essas opiniões pouco divergem, na verdade. Foi a nação em pêso que obrigou, por, Zagalo a mudar o Selecionado na partida contra a Áustria [...]

    (A popular, cheap art: soccer does not require literacy, two stones make the goal, one ball makes the game. [...] There are over 10000 matches every Sunday, in which 85% of Brazilians participate or have participated. The entire population, therefore, is an active part in the creation process of this art that is soccer.

    For this reason, the agreement between the intellectual and semiliterate is possible, about the beauty of this or that goal. All have the right and condition to express an opinion, and these opinions little disagree, indeed. It was the nation in full force that forced, by, Zagalo to change the team in the match against Austria [...]). (Veja, Nº 93, 17. Jun. 1970, p. 56).

    This sequence is directly connected to a memory that, as said before, since the thirties it treated soccer as a component element of national Brazilian identity. The above section is in accordance with the government’s speech that tried to stimulate people integration in the construction attempt of a national identity. In this way, the rulers acted according to what Hobsbawm and Terence (1997) express when they speak about inventions of traditions at the time of creating modern national States. According to the authors, these traditions aim to create feelings of belonging. In this outlook, soccer as the Brazilian’s sports is not something inherent, but a construction that can temporally be located. This construction and the representations deriving from it have their symbolic strength related to the capability of producing recognition among individuals, and to that end an instrument, and here soccer appears as an object/instrument to produce this belonging.

Soccer songs

    A classification that privileges Brazilian soccer is songs for the National Team. Very well known in the course of the 1970’s to 1980’s, was one of the forms of portraying soccer in songs over 40 years. Since 1958, when Brazil became world champion for the first time, was marked by the song A taça do mundo é nossa (The world cup is ours), in the voice of a group of blind men “Titulares do ritmo”. Songs that include soccer the central theme is not soccer, but we find in these songs, the highlight for denunciations of political recklessness, social and political arbitrariness or speaking about the Brazilian people daily life and joy and collective and personal social dramas lived by society.

    Some contributions, having the soccer theme, can be indicated to, Ary Barroso, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Francis Hime, Jorge Benjor, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Moraes Moreira, Paulinho da Viola, Gonzaguinha, Toquinho, Nando Reis and others. For Paz (2009, p. 89),

    “os grandes movimentos da MPB parecem ter abordado o Futebol de maneiras diferentes. Com o samba carioca, por exemplo, houve um perfeito entendimento... tão perfeito que Na cadência do samba, um samba que faz a apologia do samba, acabou se tornando um ícone para o Futebol, ao ter uma versão instrumental utilizada como fundo musical do célebre Canal 100, noticiário que antecedia as sessões de cinema e que apresentava os melhores lances do principal jogo da semana [...]”.

    (the great movements of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) seem to have approached Soccer in different manners. With carioca samba, for instance, there was perfect understanding... so perfect that Na cadência do samba (In the Samba Rhythm), a samba that sings the praises of samba, ended up becoming an icon for Soccer, when it had an instrumental version used as background music of the famous Channel 100, a newsreel that preceded movie showtimes and presented the best plays of the main match of the week [...]).

    If there was a highlight for MPB styles to portray soccer, it seems that to Bossa Nova and Jovem Guarda soccer was no inspiration, one by the subtlety of style and the other by composers’ concern who did not care about social and political positions of youth in 1960’s and 1970’s.

    Tropicalismo was not indifferent to soccer, with songs in its honor made by among others Gilberto Gil, the Meio de campo composer, where there a mention of Afonsinho, a 1970’s player, who stood out for his claiming attitude for athletes. Tropicalismo was a musical movement, which also reached other cultural spheres (plastic arts, cinema, poetry), emerging in Brazil in the late 1960’s. The initial landmark was the Popular Music Festival held in 1967. Also known as Tropicália, it was innovating when mixing traditional national culture aspects with aesthetical innovations such as, for example, pop art. The lyrics elaborated social criticisms and addressed daily drama themes in innovating, useful and creative manner. The main purpose of the tropicalist movement as not to use music as a political combat “weapon”; they believed that musical esthetics was already a revolutionary form (PAZ, 2009).

    Some representatives of the new MPB generation, on the contrary, do not hide their attention for the sports, the case of Gabriel, o Pensador and Skank Group. One of the best representations of contemporaneous songs inspired in Soccer is precisely from this group: É uma partida de Futebol (It is a Soccer match), of a tone that is contagious and invariably excites when executed, it shows the influence of the rhythm in Brazilian esthetic culture by drawing spaces and actions of a soccer match, involving supporters and soccer player; Such songs come in the Brazilian culture expression plan, irrespective of its esthetics, it deals with a unique cultural political expression of the Brazilian people in manifesting soccer by music (PAZ, 2009).

    Among other songs referring to soccer, it delivers to analysis in its lyrics the dedication to a soccer idol. Forgetfulness, unusual, lonesome life and with the burden of one who one day delighted crowds, though it is not direct, raises questions that not everyone had the same success as professionals. In this case, in songs, journalistic descriptions are perceived that present memories redeeming successes and failures in social life, in order to build a speech that “for this soccer did not work out well”, they are speeches that build the tradition of the soccer professional to be always successful (PAZ, 2009).

    In this way, Balada n.7, by Alberto Luiz, sung by Moacyr Franco, makes a reference to Mané Garrincha, from Botafogo Club of Rio de Janeiro. This song evidences the reality of a popular player, who, when closing his career is socially forgotten: Sua ilusão entra em campo no estádio vazio,/ Uma torcida de sonhos aplaude talvez,/ O velho atleta recorda as jogadas felizes,/ Mata a saudade no peito driblando a emoção [...]. (His illusion enters the pitch in the empty stadium,/ dream supporters applaud perhaps,/The old athlete recalls happy plays,/ Fondly remembers it dribbling emotion [...]).

Conclusive reflections

    Soccer it its organizational, political and social meanings can present distinct observation angles, whether they are esthetic, geometrical, cultural or artistic. The classifications of songs/lyrics portray soccer by providing elements that, by means of analyses of categories and concepts that appear, the relation of society with politics of the time, lived by composers and authors, according to the lived social and political context.

    At last, we understand that the study is capable of generating sensitive experiences to analysis of sports in society, performing a critical reading of materials to be studied (music, cinema, cartoons, humor, etc) in order to assign physical education that comprises teaching sports in all their dimensions: technical-tactical, socio-cultural, historical, esthetic and artistic, considering the student’s education in the entire context of knowledge.


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EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital · Año 16 · N° 161 | Buenos Aires, Octubre de 2011
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