Soccer 150 Years
By José Eduardo de Carvalho
In its one and a half century of life, soccer has helped telling the story of societies
in transformation. Under the eye of such simple and at the same time magnetic game, passionate, tragic, sublime and dramatic moments have been registered. Like a faithful portrait of the people who adopted it, soccer witnesses both social barbarities and episodes of collective joy; it has suffered threats and been unfair; it has distributed pleasures and ecstasies with the same agility it has produced traumas and minor suffering, but it has always been there.
It is not by chance that this original and skilful form of group competition which highlights individualities is the only human activity known to be followed every day of the week, anytime and anywhere by nothing less than four billion people. There are neither geographical frontiers nor social barriers for those who appreciate the game. The spectacle of soccer may be expensive and unaffordable, the guts of the sport may be obscure, like so many activities of the contemporary jungle, and the control mechanisms are not always based on common sense and honesty. However, in this regard, enjoying it is for free. There shall never be exclusion for those who want to practice it, adhere to it, admire it and suffer with it. Yes, because soccer is also a land of uncertainties and afflictions – attractive, renewing and energetic ones, but afflictions nevertheless.
In 150 years, the sport that was born in the heart of England’s Industrial Revolution has
undergone through countless periods of transformation and adjustments to several cultures. It has been molded in accordance to the idiosyncrasies of the societies that have incorporated it, embraced local costumes in a long maturation process and, just when it seemed consolidated, it discovered the market laws and plunged into a new revolutionary adventure, based on technology, on the speed of information and on globalization. Even so, it has never lost its human essences because, in this game, as the writer Eduardo Galeano lucidly and wisely states “from where we least expect comes the impossible, the dwarf teaches the giant a lesson and the puny, bowlegged black boy makes a fool out of an athlete sculpted in Greece”.