Can the Brazil team reunite a divided country – and reclaim the yellow jersey?
The Brazilian national team has a balanced roster when it travels to Qatar. I mean, football-wise. A strong and seasoned defence, a combative and inventive midfield, and a highly skilled offence composed of players that work well together. All of this offers the head coach, Tite, a variety of setup options.
But as we have witnessed in Qatar over the past several days, a World Cup is about more than simply football. Additionally, Brazil’s political environment is important going into this competition.
In a separate election from the World Cup countdown, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro and won re-election. It meant that the nation made a decisive move towards restoring its young democracy, which had been in danger ever since the 2016 coup that deposed former president Dilma Rousseff and opened the door for Bolsonaro’s far-right government to take power in 2018.
Brazilian society is severely divided as a result of four years of destructive leadership and an election that was markedly polarized. To make matters worse, Brazilians had to watch as Neymar, the star player and captain of the national team, chose to support Bolsonaro in the fictitious fight against a communist threat while ignoring the 120 million Brazilians who are on the verge of food insecurity and the more than 30 million Brazilians who are chronically hungry.
The former Santos star with the humble upbringing has obviously lost touch with his roots and the plight and needs of the bulk of the populace who would support him throughout the World Cup due to his achievement. It’s a depressing situation.
Brazil’s World Cup and presidential elections alternate every four years, causing shockwaves to reverberate across society. Following Russia 2018, the political appropriation of the venerable and highly esteemed yellow Brazil national team jersey, intended to support Bolsonaro’s nationalist movement, led to the disapproval and refusal of millions of Brazilians to wear it, even for a World Cup.
Despite all of this, there is optimism for better times to come. Many Brazilians support their national team in the hopes that a successful World Cup will unite the nation and help heal its recent and painful wounds. Lula’s appearance on the international stage during Cop27 in Egypt, demonstrating Brazil‘s reaffirmed commitment to leading in international diplomacy and environmental issues, marked the beginning of the process of recovering a Brazilian identity. The Qatari pitches will continue to be used in that process.
what about football then? Brazil are in good position before their opening match against Serbia on Thursday, as I previously stated. They breezed through the qualifying rounds, winning 14 of their games, drawing three, scoring 40 goals, and only giving up five. Some Europeans might believe that qualifying for South America is simple, but they couldn’t be more mistaken. Believe me when I say that playing teams like Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela away from home is anything but simple. Add to that the requirement to play in Bolivia, which is 3,400 metres above sea level.