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Forty years of a soccer revolution

Forty years of a soccer revolution

40 years ago, the world of football looked at Corinthians from Brazil. Founded in 1910, in the early 1980s it caused a revolution that became known as Corinthian Democracy. He didn’t just go through football, which he played brilliantly, but through the modes. He won the 1982 and 1983 São Paulo championships, the year in which the cycle ended, represented especially by Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira. Socrates.

The Corinthian Democracy had principles that it adhered to to the letter. Everything was voted if he was concentrating, where, who, etc. One man, one vote. The idea had been promoted by the sociologist Adílson Monteiro Alves, who found in Sócrates, Walter Casagrande Júnior and Zenon political and social references for the first team. But the methodology extended to employees and players from different disciplines. For the pro-military press of the time, that was a gathering of bearded anarchists and communists.

Exercising democracy in those years of dictatorships was not easy. Brazil was under the military power of João Baptista Figueiredo. “That banner that said ‘Win or lose but always in democracy’ was undoubtedly the genesis of the return of democracy in Brazil and an explicit provocation towards the dictatorship. That flag was unfurled at the Morumbí in the final of the 1983 Paulista Championship. The result of the match was anecdotal, Corinthians won the ‘Majestic Classic’ against São Paulo 1-0 and turned around. Most of the São Paulo universe experienced an unforgettable party that inspired the singer and guitarist Antonio Pecci, known by the stage name of Toquinho, to compose a hymn that resonates timelessly with all Corinthians fans”, recalls the disseminator Luis Pablo Targhetta in his recent book Socrates, the football revolutionary. Biography short and direct at the same time. Mix of football and politics. Panorama of hard years for South America.

“What I found attractive and unique about Socrates was his ability to use soccer as a tool for social transformation,” Targhetta tells Page 12. Socrates was a rare figure in the soccer environment. Especially for those times. He was a doctor (he graduated in 1977 from the University of São Paulo) and had a political commitment. He admired Martin Luther King, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro (one of his six children was named Fidel), Antonio Gramsci and John Lennon. He was a compulsive reader. His intelligence and his ideology led him to become friends with Lula. “The true purpose of Socrates on a court was not sporting achievement, but to raise awareness in a society as a way to pave the way for the return of democracy in Brazil”add.

Socrates’ ideological training was inherited at home but was consolidated at the age of 10, the day his father burned books for fear of being arrested for his left-wing ideas. Owner of a privileged physique, he never gave up his addictions to cigarettes and alcohol. Especially the beer.

His time – in addition to Corinthians – through Botafogo de Ribeirão Preto (State of São Paulo), Fiorentina (Italy), Flamengo and Santos are not the main thing in the book. Nor do I remember him as technical director, with more pain than glory. Yes, instead, emphasis is placed on the cycle of him in the Brazilian national team that broke it in the World Cup in Spain, in 1982. That Brazil is remembered as one of the best teams of all time.

“He would put his body upright and raise his right fist towards the sky as a symbol of resistance against oppression. His gesture was perhaps inspired by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who, upon winning the gold and silver medal respectively, lowered their heads and raised their fists to the sky when the American anthem began to play at the medal ceremony, in the final of the 200-meter dash at the Mexico ’68 Games, in protest against racism. Smith and Carlos immortalized the Black Power while Socrates immortalized the struggle of a country to win its freedom”, reads one of the paragraphs in Targhetta’s book.

There is a question that has always been asked Socrates: “Why more moving causes do not move as much as soccer: like children in the street, tsunamis, extreme poverty in the heart of Africa and in some other corners, genocide and many others?”. It is that –says Targhetta– Socrates was much more than a soccer player. He was first and foremost a militant who fought for a better society with a ball at his feet. That is his true legacy.”

Although he recently dedicated himself to medicine by founding a health center after leaving football, in 1989, he also worked as a journalist, produced plays and even launched himself as a singer. But the story of a character like Socrates cannot lack the epic ending. Targhetta remembers him: “I had one last wish: to die on the Sunday that Corinthians were champions. And while his life was extinguished, the club of his life was heading towards the conquest of its fifth Brasileirao. That he did the Olympic lap a few hours after Socrates died from a liver crisis just after 4 in the morning on December 4, 2011, at the age of 57 ”. He could never beat alcohol.

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