EDITOR’S INSIGHT – 12th June 2014
WRITTEN BY ROBIN POPLEY
It’s been almost two years, but, I am delighted to welcome you all back to XI (11).
In the time since the team and I were last writing, my beloved Leicester City have managed to storm to the Championship title and earn our place back at the top table of English football for the first time in a decade and Culture Club have reunited. So, yes, a lot has happened. More importantly though, we missed the laughs, so what better time to make our return than on the day the World Cup in Brazil kicks off. To be fair, I feel like a kid at Christmas… I love the World Cup!
Yet, before a ball is kicked, I want to talk about the other side of Brazil. That beautiful country that Michael Palin fell in love with and if I had enough money I would probably go and visit in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t want to go to Rio? Party? Enjoy Samba, football… the beautiful game. Nevertheless, behind all of the magic, there is the story of the favelas which needs telling.
I have been watching documentaries left, right and centre recently regarding the above and I have heard the voices of many forgotten Brazilians who feel that despite it also being their national sport, the last thing that needed prioritising was football’s greatest tournament when there are so many people who approximately earn less than a quarter of a British average worker’s wage per month. That is a staggering statistic.
What’s more, until just two years ago, most of the favelas were in the pre-pacification stage (as is the mantra used by Brazil’s government). In layman’s terms, this is where drug trafficking ruled the streets and prostitution – despite being legal between consenting adults from 18 and over – was being carried out by much younger members of society in both sexes. It is at this point when it truly hits you. As much as I love football, sometimes in life there are greater callings and perhaps the people of Brazil have a point.
That, said, the general consensus amongst the population of Brazil is that they cannot wait to stage the tournament in which the Samba Boys are historically the greatest international team to grace the game. Proudly boasting 5 world titles to their name, Brazil have been lucky enough to have in their ranks Pele – widely considered to be the greatest player of all-time – ‘the original’ Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Leonardo, Socrates, Cafu… the list is endless. I, myself, love watching Brazil play football. Back to Michael Palin and he said in a recent documentary presented by my footballing hero and fellow son of Leicester, Gary Lineker, that for Brazilians football isn’t just a sport – it is almost as if the ball in itself is the very being for which the human soul breaths and needs to exercise its passion. I was loving this analogy somewhat…
Moving away from the hosts for a second and to look at our own chances. Well, we all know we didn’t have the most clear cut qualifying (despite finishing top of our group) and compared to past World Cups, expectations are almost non-existent. Long have gone the days of Beckham et al and now what is left is a small amount of hope for the future…but this is where I will intervene. I genuinely believe, whether it be in this tournament or future FIFA and UEFA competitions, England have a great chance to stamp a mark on the footballing world again once more. With emerging talents like Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley in such commanding form for their respective Merseyside clubs, there is a nucleus for a bright future. Sadly, though, this time may be too soon but we will nevertheless enjoy the roller coaster that being an England fan means we must ride on.
So, without further ado, enjoy the next month of football. Let the spirit of samba embrace us all and here’s to a bright future at XI. I know I speak on behalf of the whole team when I say we can’t wait to entertain you all once again.