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The Brazilian football team is one of the modern wonders of the world. At its best it exudes a skill, flamboyance and romantic pull like nothing else on earth. Football is how the world sees Brazil and how Brazilians see themselves. The game symbolises racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation and skill, and yet football is also a microcosm of Latin America's largest country and contains all of its contradictions. Travelling extensively from the Uruguayan border to the northeastern backlands, from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the Amazon jungle-Bellos shows how Brazil changed football and how football shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, between the great teams, like Corinthians and Vasco de Gama, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country. With an unerring eye for a good story and a marvellous ear for the voices of the people he meets, Alex Bellos describes the startling range of football spinoffs found in Brazil; from Autoball, literally football with cars and a giant leather ball to Ecoball, played in the heart of the rainforest, from Button football and its highly regulated procedures organised by fearsome Buttonistas to the truly alarming Footbull (yes with bulls).
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Futebol is sub-titled "The Brazilian Way of Life", and if any sport can truly be deemed to be such a thing for any country on the planet, then surely the sport must be football, and the country Brazil. Alex Bellos's study of football in Brazil, its history, its players, supporters and legends, works from the standpoint that Brazilian football is one the modern wonders of the world, "the beautiful game" being an art form in itself and a universally recognised trademark and brand. From such a view, he is able to entertain the reader not only with stories about great players and matches well known by the followers of world football, but also about the unique position of the game in the world's fifth largest country. Thus featured here are not only tales of Garrincha, Socrates and Ronaldo, of Flamengo and Fluminense, but also of football amongst the Indians of the Amazon, Brazilian footballers in the Faroe Islands and the story of the design (and designer) of the famous golden yellow Brazilian shirt, perhaps the most instantly recognisable icon in football anywhere. Where other books investigating the footballing culture of one country might have a more straightforward story to tell, Bellos uses this more eclectic approach. While the subjects of his observations are linked by the common threads of football and Brazil, he still captures magnificently the beauty, passion and the occasional absurdity of the world game in the world's number one footballing nation. --Trevor CroweReview:
"A perfect reflection of [Brazil's] dissonant, multicoloured abundance" -- Independent Magazine
"A thrilling picture of Brazilian society and its football which neatly combines reportage with sporting analysis." -- The Observer, 7th July 2002
"As beguiling, as surprising and as many-faceted as Brazillian football itself' -- Richard Williams
"Bellos not only scores, but he arrives in the box at the end of a mazy, magical dribble though Brazilian history and society that is worthy of Garrincha." -- Independent Sports Book of the Week
"The Brazilian's team sparkle may have been tarnished, but 'Futebol - The Brazilain way of life' is as beguiling as a garrincha dribble." -- Jon Crampin, Four by Four
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