World Cup countdown: Brazil's Minister of Sport at King's

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Brazil is hoping to use this summer’s World Cup as an opportunity to help the country capture more ‘global football GDP’, according to sports minister Aldo Rebelo who visited King’s on Monday.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup now less than three months away, Mr Rebelo addressed a packed audience in a special event hosted by King's Brazil Institute  and attended by Brazil's Ambassador to the United Kingdom His Excellency Roberto Jaguaribe.

Minister Rebelo was welcomed by Dr Joanna Newman, Vice-Principal (International) at King’s College London and Professor Anthony Pereira, Director of King's Brazil Institute. 

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His Excellency Roberto Jaguaribe, Minister Rebelo, Professor Anthony Pereira

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In an informative and impassioned speech, Minister Rebelo outlined the history and development of football in Brazil and addressed questions on the challenges the country is facing in hosting the World Cup and Olympics in the space of the next few years.

Last held in Brazil in 1950, the 2014 World Cup is taking place in twelve cities across the country, with the final in Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 13 July. The television audience is projected to be even higher than in South Africa four years ago, when the tournament was watched by a cumulative audience of 30 billion people. 

‘In Brazil we didn’t invent football, but we have developed the game the most,’ said Minister Rebelo. 

Charles Miller, born in Sao Paulo to a Scottish father and a woman of English descent, is generally credited with bringing football or ‘futebol’ to Brazil. He was involved in founding the Sao Paulo Athletic Club and the Liga Paulista, the country’s first football league. 

‘Although football began as an elite sport, it very quickly became a vehicle for social mobility and a stage for Brazil's mixed-race population. ‘[It was] a means for the expression of the passion, desire and fantasy of the socially excluded. The struggle against racism and prejudice is part of the story of football in Brazil, as the game became a universal sport in Brazil and around the world.’ 

He noted that, since the 1940s, football in Brazil has grown and developed along with the market and state. The game expanded with an influx of revenue as television coverage of the sport became more widespread in the 1980s. 

The Brazilian national team became associated with ‘football-art', a style of play quite different from the more disciplined, European variety. He argued that Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people added a new element to football in Brazil: an unpredictable, joyous, dancing, weaving style. In the case of some players, the absence of the discipline imposed by wage labour was a factor in this style.

Ahead of the 2014 World Cup, Minister Rebelo said he hoped that by hosting the tournament Brazil would be able to capture more of the global 'football GDP' – a market currently dominated by the English, Italian, Spanish, and German national leagues. 

In exporting talented players all over the world, Brazil is, the Minister argued, a 'supplier' of raw material in the football market, rather than a seller of the final product. He drew a comparison with Brazil and its impact on the world economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries – speaking of the country’s goal to ‘move up the value added chain and capture more of the world's football market’, in the way that it has captured more of the world manufacturing market in the last 100 years. 

‘The tournament will generate jobs, contribute to Brazil's economic growth, and a World Cup legacy is being constructed through new sports facilities,’ he said. He added that preparations and infrastructure – hotels, airports and stadiums – were adequate for the scale of the event. 

Responding to questions from the floor, the Minister addressed popular scepticism in Brazil ahead of the tournament and the possibility of protests. 

He said that while football would not solve the country’s social problems such as inequality and poor public services, no groups such as trade unions, congressional representatives, Afro-Brazilian organizations, church leaders, or business associations were actively protesting ‘against the Cup’.

Dr Joanna Newman, Vice-Principal (International), King’s College London, said: ‘It is a great pleasure to welcome our distinguished guest, Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo. I am sure that the World Cup will remind us of the affinities between our two countries and our shared passion for the beautiful game.

‘Brazilians are understandably proud of their tradition in the World Cup. As the only national team to have played in every World Cup tournament, they have honoured the game with an open, creative style of football that has surprised and inspired millions around the world.’

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Katya Nasim, International Press Officer at King's College London, on +44 (0)207 848 3840 or email katya.nasim@kcl.ac.uk. 

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