27 June - 3 July 2014 #713

Passage to Europe

Ruy Castro, 66,  is best known for his passionate and moving biography of Brazilian football legend Garrincha. Equally at home in football, music and history, Castro tells Nepali Times why ordinary Brazilians do not care much for today’s football stars.

Nepali Times: A lot of people around the globe believe that nothing defines Brazilians more than football.

Frankly, I never heard this assumption. It might have been true some decades ago, but it’s not anymore. Brazilians may be defined by their love of Carnival, rich food or going to the beach, as much as by football. 

But football stars play a role in terms of national identity and pride?

In the past, Pelé, Garrincha, Tostão, Zico, Sócrates, Romário and a few others could really be taken as national heroes. Brazilian great players were strongly identified with their clubs. Not anymore. As soon as a great young player appears, he goes to Europe. Neymar played for Santos as long as they managed to keep him here, but eventually he also had to go. So, we’re short of national heroes. Brazilians live much more in awe of their football clubs, chiefly Flamengo, which has around 40 million supporters across the country, including myself. 

Who is bigger hero for ordinary Brazilians – Pelé or Garrincha? 

Pelé is admired by people, but not loved. Garrincha was definitely loved. Pelé was --- and is --- rich, Garrincha was an alcoholic and poor. Brazilians tend to root for the underdog. 

Do you think this will be a successful World Cup?

I believe that, despite all problems of infrastructure, this will be a great World Cup.  

Will Brazil be lucky again to win the World Cup?     It is not probable, but it’s perfectly possible. Brazil can win.  

Read also:

America's cup, Shobhan Saxena

The best World Cup ever?, Shobhan Saxena

When football comes home, Shobhan Saxena

In goal we trust, Shobhan Saxena

The beautiful mirage, Marcela Mora Y Araujo

Brazil’s own goals, Matt Slaughter and Janna Remes