News Latin America Can the World Cup save democracy in Brazil?

Can the World Cup save democracy in Brazil?

I cannot describe myself as a soccer man, although with more than half a century of journalistic work behind me, I would be a fool if I stopped emphasizing what the young Flavia Oliveira has written in the newspaper or globe: “Football is often more than a game. The World Cup is more than a sports competition”. This is what is happening today, perhaps with greater intensity than at other times in a world torn apart and in pain.

The World Cup has barely started and already appears as much more than a game of the ball. The anxiety of a world loaded with unknowns about its present and its future is suddenly concentrating on him. The World Cup has been presented on the arm of politics, of the current existential anxieties and with the unknown of a war still without deciphering.

I am writing from Brazil, the five-time World Cup champion, where, as in few other countries —perhaps only Argentina— the event is always more than a sport. Soccer is also linked to idiosyncrasy, love and heartbreak, economic crises, myths, politics and the destiny of the country.

Brazil has reached the World Cup as its greatest champion, in one of the most critical and painful moments in its history, with democracy threatened by an extremist regime of a coup and macho right-wing that has once again made national sport a springboard to jump to no one knows where.

Perhaps never like today, not even in the times of military dictatorships, has Brazil appeared before the world in search of such bizarre and dangerous authoritarian solutions that have bitterly divided the country, creating a climate of civil war, with its democracy seriously threatened. politically than psychologically.

All of this has become clear when preparing to live, enjoy and suffer from a national event that embraces young and old, rich and poor, left and right, enlightened and illiterate. If something belongs to everyone and for everyone in Brazil, without political distinctions, it is soccer, a thermometer of the emotional temperature and happiness of a people.

This year, moreover, with the aggravating circumstance of a threatened democracy. With its most sacred symbols, like the yellow-green colors of its flag, torn and dirty by the evil winds that herald the loss of democracy. Evil winds that have engendered the monster of an outdated authoritarianism and an outdated nostalgia for order and stale values ​​of the past, in which the World Cup was going to be experienced with more unknowns than ever.

A question as obvious as “what to wear to watch the game?” It has become an existential and political problem, since the classic colors of freedom and the flag are turning into the ogres of the black Bolsonarismo nostalgic for dictatorships, torture and outdated dictatorships in a world that presents itself willing to overcome the old Homo sapiens to give life to a leap of time that frightens and exalts at the same time.

And that is the miracle that may have started to make a World Cup that Brazil dreams of winning wrapped in the kind colors of its yellow green. Suddenly, Tyrians and Trojans, defenders of the values ​​of freedom and nostalgic for old existential tears, realized that they were losing their identity because they were putting their freedom in crisis blown by the outdated winds of former military dictatorships. And they felt stripped of democracy, enemies even in the family, with old poisoned friends.

The World Cup had started badly for the undemocratic Brazil in the debut against Serbia. Its increasingly worn star, Neymar, the king and favorite of Jair Bolsonaro, and the rise of the democratic Richarlison, whose two goals touched the sky and traveled the world, began to appear as symbols that something was changing.

Suddenly, even the most doubtful once again used the mother colors of Brazil, those of democracy, because they belong to everyone. He understood it until the new president, the former trade unionist Lula da Silva, who appeared dressed in green and yellow, leaving in his old trunks the red of a left that the winds of modernity are blowing away.

It is early to say, but this start of the World Cup, for Brazil, whether they win or lose it, is beginning to be marked by a more profound change than could appear on the surface. It seemed like a World Cup without salt, with a world threatened again by the old and fearsome drums of war.

And yet, the strong political winds of protest with which it was born seem to indicate, at least for the Brazil of soccer, that we are facing something that once again means more than just a sport, since it involves in its essence the benign winds of freedom and democracy that were once again overshadowing the country.

Brazil is back on track. Hopefully the World Cup will once again be a symbol and flag of a people that does not resign itself, despite all its sorrows, its tragic inequalities and its ancestral cruelties with the different and with the environment, to continue fighting for values, those are sacred , of freedom. Yes, for everyone and everyone, if you want it to not be just a farce.

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