Flamengo, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, Cafú, Rivaldo, Romario and Ronaldinho: all with the former right-wing president. Not even the green-gold jersey did the miracle
“Hey, Neymar, now go testify.” People on the street blame the Brazilian superstar for defeat, this time in the election. Because Neymar, like much of Brazilian football had chosen: he had sided in a sometimes brazen way for Bolsonaro, the former president and leader of the populist far right, finally defeated in the ballot by Lula.
And indeed it is football as a collector of votes, and rhetorically glue of the people, to emerge sensationally defeated by the Brazilian elections.
On the same Sunday of the elections, Bolsonaro had gone to the Rio airport to receive Flamengo, the new champion of the Copa Libertadores. Bolsonaro posed for the photo with the players of the country’s most popular team, the one with 42 million fans. With the president friend Rodolfo Landim and with the dt Dorival Junior. Defender Leo Pereira, goalkeeper Diego Alves, Rodinei and others smile and greet – tells La Nacion – Flamengo grew up an ally of Bolsonaro. The club helped him break the quarantine at the time of Covid-19. The president gave him a decree to negotiate TV contracts and wants to give him land to build his stadium. Bolsonaro wore his shirt whenever he could. Flamengo even helped fuel the fake news industry that was the key to his campaign. “Lula whistled at the Maracana”, but it was a fake video. The partnership with Flamengo was obscene – writes the Argentine newspaper – but he was not the only one.
Saturday’s Libertadores final in Guayaquil pitted Brazil’s two most “Bolsonist” clubs against each other. A few hours before the elections, Mario Celso Petraglia, president of Atletico Paranaense (later defeated 1-0 by Flamengo), has published his support for Bolsonaro. “God, Country, Family and Freedom!“, That’s how Petraglia closed his message. Some fans protested that he used Atletico politically on “the most important day” of the club. But the team had already “served” Bolsonaro in the 2018 elections, when he took the field with a manifesto of support. In the Curitiba office, the judicial investigation was born that served to imprison Lulaand which was later demolished by the Supreme Court of Brazil.
Almost all the power of Brazilian football has sided with Bolsonaro. So did the captain of the national team Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and retired idols like Cafú, Rivaldo, Romario and Ronaldinho, among many others, born into poverty, now well off. There sweater the national team had now become the uniform of the candidate and his constituents. Bolsonaro made the Olympic lap when Brazil won the 2019 Copa América. Pelé sent him his autographed shirt.
Paradoxically, yesterday it was the football fans who broke one of the many roadblocks organized by truckers, another lobby close to Bolsonaro, after the electoral verdict: Atletico Mineiro fans forced the blockade to get to the match against the San Paolo. The Coritiba fans did the same, traveling to Santa Catarina to play against Juventude.