Culture of Soccer Week 4 (Futbol/Futebol: The Politics of Fun in Latin America) Comment

Each week we are to respond to another student’s post.  Amalia posted that there have been those footballers who have protested against governments, especially in the 1970’s.  Her comments were in response to the Soccer Rebels series that we were assigned.

Here was my response to her post:

The players in focus this week—Caszely and Socrates—made stands against the government, and these are the ones, the very small minority, that you open your post with.  Moving ahead 30 years, what players would make these sorts of gestures today? Maybe Drogba (if you haven’t seen his episode, it is quite good as well), and maybe players outside my circle of study (England and Spain).  One example of a player trying to make a difference is the former Brazilian star Romario for sure, who, although done playing, has become a politician in Brazil, trying to foment change in that country and in FIFA.

Seems like the modern athlete has almost gone the other way, trying to not offend anyone in attempt to stay neutral in order to maximize off field revenue and to avoid controversy in the press.  My frame of reference is Michael Jordan in basketball, who intentionally focused everything on his playing rather than any off field pursuits.  Look at the stars of today—Messi, CR7, Rooney.  None of these players have a political stand that I am aware of, and I could hardly see them standing up to a perceived wrong.  Maybe it’s the nature of the contemporary athlete.  Maybe it’s that there no more dragons to slay, which seems hard to fathom.  In the end, stories like those of Caszely and Socrates inspire all that change is hard but possible.

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