Brazil’s toxic politics stain the canarinho, the national team jersey

Opinion

Omar Monteiro Jr.’s hilltop bar in Rio de Janeiro, a ten-minute drive from Maracana Stadium – the cathedral of world football – is the haunt of Brazil’s progressives. On the wall you will find a mural depicting the country’s left-leaning president. What you won’t find – at least not on Montero’s back – is perhaps the most recognizable uniform in sports, the yellow and green jersey of the Brazilian national team.

As Brazil begins its quest for a sixth World Cup title on Thursday, a potentially euphoric moment in Latin America’s biggest nation is being dampened by divisions following last month’s ugly presidential election. The division is ripping at the seams. canarinhoThe once sacred “little canary” shirt was worn before, during and after the election campaign by the defeated Jair Bolsonaro.

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The camps set up by the president’s supporters across the country to protest the election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are seas of yellow and green. For many Brazilians, colors are Bolsonaristas It is tarnishing the jersey made famous by generations of the beautiful game, from Pele to Ronaldinho.

“I have a yellow shirt. I used to wear the Montero, but I was like, “Man, it’s too heavy. [now]. The way you customize the shirt. It’s embarrassing to wear. It has become a symbol of the Brazilian far-right.

Bolsonaro has drawn criticism for his dismissal of the coronavirus pandemic, his support for the development of the Amazon rainforest, and his insults against women, minorities and the LGBTQ community. On October 30, he narrowly lost the second and last round of the election. Supporters of voter fraud enter military bases to file complaints without evidence.

For a country the size of a continent, for a country that loves football, for a country that usually shares a common dream Hexa – A historic sixth title – is raising a deeply personal question for the World Championship bid. Will the team’s run this year serve as a national healing moment? Or will an era of toxic politics—excessive personal attacks, voter violence, baseless allegations of rigged elections—paint a way to inflict lasting wounds on a nation?

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The national team, especially a symbol of national pride, is a microcosm of the country’s polarized politics. A number of players have at least tacitly backed Bolsonaro, with the most obvious support coming from the biggest star: Neymar. The election celebrity joined forces with the authorities live by posting a Tik Tok video of him singing a campaign song. He promised to give the president a goal at the World Cup.

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The national coach, Tite, on his part, has publicly stated that politics has entered into the team’s affairs. Lula, in December, has vowed to end a tradition since the 1950s of refusing to join any team that visits the capital to meet the president, should Brazil, the reigning World Cup winners, take the crown again. In January.

When asked about the public battle over the national football jersey last month, he told O Globo newspaper that he did not want to get involved in an ideological war.

The current national sentiment is It’s a stark contrast to the carnival that gripped the country in 2002 when the Brazilians won their record-breaking fifth World Cup championship. After the vote, which Bolsonaro supporters said was stolen without evidence, some called for a ban on left-wing businesses. A few Bolsonistas have proposed that progressives decorate their businesses with the red star of Lula’s Workers’ Party so that buyers can identify their political allegiance — an idea some on the left say is based on the yellow stars of David painted on Jewish businesses. The Nazi Party in Germany.

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A cafe owner in the Brazilian city of Goiânia says her business has been added to a boycott list. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said her clients are progressive, which limits the financial damage. But she became alarmed when Bolsonaro’s supporters picked on her online, posting her political views on private family photos taken from her Instagram account and writing negative comments about her cafe on Google.

“Maybe these attacks will be effective, because I’m thinking of not talking much about politics anymore,” she said.

The yellow and green shirts were among several protests that have been taking place since election night at Brazil’s southeastern military command center in Sao Paulo, where thousands of Bolsonaro supporters protested the election results. Some opponents have called for military intervention to keep Bolsonaro in office. Vendors wearing green and yellow paper bags emblazoned with the World Cup logo in Qatar sold in the crowd.

Luiz Claudio Pereira, a retired small business man, was one of many last week wearing a national shirt outside a Sao Paulo military base. A Bolsonaro supporter says it’s more of a nationalism symbol than a sport. “For me, the jersey represents Brazil, not the national team.”

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He said Lula’s supporters shun the jersey because they lack national pride.

“I think it is lack of patriotism. “That’s why they don’t want to wear it. I don’t think it’s a symbol of Bolsonaro.

Nike, which produces the official shirt, did not respond to a request for sales figures. Brazilian press reports suggest a surge in domestic sales ahead of Brazil’s election – driven in part by Bolsonaro’s supporters. But Brazil’s alternate jersey, a darker shade of blue, particularly the yellow and green shirt, has gained popularity among those worried about being associated with the political right.

“The division in Brazilian society is here to stay. It won’t go away because of the World Cup,” said political analyst and author Marcos Nobre. “There is a battle on the left to reclaim the national shirt for the progressives. It might succeed, but people will see the national shirt as different after all this.”

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In a country where poor kids dream of rising from the favelas with soccer talent and religious shrines are dedicated to the sport, the yellow and green jersey has an incredibly political history. In a humiliating defeat – Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup to little neighbor Uruguay – and unabashed patriotism was born. In the year In 1953, a competition to replace the then-predominantly white uniform had one requirement: the use of the yellow, green, blue and white of the Brazilian flag.

The winner, designed by 19-year-old newspaper illustrator Aldir Schlie, was a shirt with a yellow field – hence Carinho, or little canary – covered in Kelly green trim and worn with blue shorts and white socks. Years later, Schlie would be imprisoned for writings about the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985.

In the year In 1970, when the dictator identified winning the World Cup as a domestic propaganda goal and appointed a brigadier general to lead the tournament team, many leftist Brazilians shunned the jersey and said they would not support the team. Some – including future president Dilma Rousseff, then jailed as a dissident – expressed encouragement for Brazil anyway.

The polarization around the shirt has faded in the age of democracy, but in 2010, It came roaring back in 2013 when opponents of Rousseff’s leftist government seized the sign. Over the past four years, the jersey has become a trademark of the die-hard Bolsonaroistas, encouraged by the president.

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Bolsonaro has asked his supporters to wear it on election day.

“More and more Brazil is painted green and yellow,” he said in an August podcast. “Not for the cup; It is for love of country. Partly because of me? yes.”

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Some on the Brazilian left are trying to reclaim the shirt. Some, including Lula’s wife, are posting selfies in T-shirts and making the L sign with their hands for the president-elect. Some wore a version adorned with a red star, the symbol of Lula’s Workers’ Party, or the number 13, the electoral name given to the party.

Others say it’s too late.

Writer Millie Lacombe said on a podcast last week, “The yellow shirts are calling for military intervention in the streets, for a coup d’état, for the return of the dictatorship.” I could be wrong, but I think the yellow shirt is beyond saving. I don’t see how we can get this shirt.

Lula said he will wear the shirt with pride during the World Cup this month.

“We should not be ashamed to wear our green and yellow shirts,” he said. “Green and yellow is not a candidate. It’s not a party. Green and yellow is the color of 213 million people who love this country.”

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Some here hope that the World Cup can begin to heal our divided nation.

Juka Kfuri, one of the country’s most famous sports journalists, said that even the left would be forgiven if Neymar were to grow up in the coming days. “If he has a nice mug, people will come back. Even those who strongly hate him will become their idol.

With Lula’s victory, Kifuri said, the “climate of hostility” began to dissipate.

“I think the World Cup will have that kind of character, where people go to the streets together, and they don’t ask who they voted for,” he said. “Maybe there are more blue shirts than yellow shirts. Maybe there are still people who don’t want to wear the yellow jersey. But people who don’t have blue wear yellow anyway. Because it is the color of Brazil.

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