The annoying question: is Brazil still the country of football? “We are going through a slow period”

The annoying question: is Brazil still the country of football? “We are going through a slow period”
The annoying question: is Brazil still the country of football? “We are going through a slow period”

We no longer see kids playing in the street, we no longer hear broken windows” after poorly measured shots, deplores Lauro Nascimento, a 52-year-old amateur player from the Aurora club, in the north of Sao Paulo.

As a child, he broke several toes while playing barefoot on the dirt paths strewn with large stones in the Vila Aurora neighborhood. They gave way to tarmac streets.
Buildings were built on the vacant land where Lauro Nascimento also played wild games.

Children living in poor neighborhoods, where most of Brazil’s football stars come from, are finding it increasingly difficult to find places to play.
According to an independent study from 2021, only a fifth of football schools in Brazil are free.

It is most often played on artificial turf, where it is easier to control a ball than on the irregular surfaces of vacant lots where many crack players have acquired their unique technical mastery.

The passion for football still exists, but it is more difficult to practice it today“, summarizes Edson Nascimento, 57 years old, president of the Aurora club.

Less profitable transfers

The fact that children play less football in Brazil “has a strong impact on our football”, estimates researcher Euler Victor.

We have a lot of players playing in Europe, but few of them play leading roles“, he explains.

The last great Brazilian star, Neymar, shone for a few years, but his career was weighed down by injuries and controversies.

Hopes currently rest on Vinicius, 23, a twirling striker for Real Madrid, and the jewel Endrick, only 17, who will soon join him at the Spanish club.

Brazil remains the world’s leading exporter of footballers, but sales revenues have fallen sharply.

Last year, 2,375 Brazilian players were transferred for an amount of $935.3 million, 19% less than the 1,753 transactions recorded in 2018, according to Fifa data.

This is particularly due to the fact that Brazilian nuggets like Endrick, Vinicius or Rodrygo are sold younger and younger in Europe, before their market value explodes when they confirm their potential by playing at the highest level.

“Mechanical”

The Brazilians are also struggling to stand out in an increasingly homogenous world football, where tactics often take precedence over individual technical quality.

The technical level has dropped significantly (…). The style of play has changed and this evolution has ended up depriving our players of their creativity“, deplores Victor Hugo da Silva. He trains children aged 7 to 10 on artificial turf in the football school that trained Vinicius, in Sao Gonçalo, a poor suburb near Rio de Janeiro.

Our football, which exuded the joy of living, has become more mechanical“, he insists.

One of his students, Miguel, a nine-year-old goalkeeper, with hair bleached blond like Neymar, dreams of “joining the Flamengo training center”, the most popular club in Brazil.

Victor Hugo da Silva does not question the passion of new generations. But he warns of new “difficulties” in training them, due to physical problems which he attributes, among other things, to the sedentary lifestyle of children “addicted” to video games.

Brazil has more mobile phones than people and 34% of the population aged five to 19 is overweight, according to the World Obesity Atlas.

Before, we took children who had already played in the street. Now they arrive without experience, without motor coordination, and this is reflected in their play“, explains the coach.

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