Photo credits: BeSoccer
Used by Nike during the 2000s, the term “Joga Bonito” was never used in Brazil, apart from Nike’s merchandise. Even then, used to represent the talent of the Brazilian player, this magic seems to be very far from the Brazilian fields.
In Brazil, people use to say that our biggest talents are in Europe, which is true, but some decades ago, the local championship, called Brasileirão, had good players, and good matches. Today, that is a vague memory from the past.
In Europe, it’s unusual to watch matches from the Brasileirão, because of the time of the matches and also the fact that CBF is very bad at selling their tournament. But even in the best matches, someone who never saw a Brasileirão match will see plays that have nothing from “Joga Bonito”.
Many factors can explain this crisis in Brazilian football, which is reflected in the Brazilian performances in the World Cups. Between them, some are more relevant.
While in Europe, those who think football had a preoccupation to develop the whole player, diminishing the technical gap between Brazilian and European players, in Brazil the preoccupation was, instead of having a holistic approach, making the player stronger, choosing only the tall players. Imagine the surprise in the country when Barcelona massacred Santos in the FIFA Club World Cup, with players like Iniesta, Xavi, and Messi. During the week, the comment was: how much Xavi can make in the leg press? He will be destroyed. Barça finished the game in the first half. While the European players became more technical, more intelligent, and also stronger, Brazil bet only in the last one.
Another important factor was the agents. Today in Brazil, young players only reach the highest level with a good agent. It doesn’t matter how good the player is, he will not get the best teams and have a chance to become a professional player in a good team without a good agent. Those agents are preoccupied only with how much they can get in the future with that player if he can go to Europe and are not developed to find real talents.
Brazil is a very poor country, even in the big cities, but, even the poor kid in Brazil has access to different ways of entertainment. While that is good, for football it isn’t. While that kid, 30 or 40 years ago had only a ball to have fun with, today, video games and streaming took the ball from those kids. That is not exclusive to Brazil, but when you don’t have a good formation for the players, this becomes even more pronounced.
It’s possible to list many other factors that destroyed the local “Joga Bonito”, but that would be more appropriate for a book than only a text. The solution comes with the development of better coaches and everyone related to football, recreating a football culture, taking the best from Europe and the theories that were created here and rediscovering the real Brazilian football, creating something modern but based in the Brazilian specificities, not the Joga Bonito, but the one that made Brazil famous all around the world.