Week 8

For years, Brazilian football has been the hallmark of professional football across the globe. The world’s most renowned talented footballers have Brazilian descent. However, there is a story behind the success of the sport in Brazil. This work explores the relationship between the themes of sports, sovereignty, class and racial struggles, and the Italo-Brazilian footballers.

As espoused in the text, we see pieces of evidence of racial and class struggles. The football clubs were being formed based on the foreign communes and for locals to be incorporated, they had to satisfy some level of affluence. It was, therefore, unusual to find the people of color, and women actively participating in soccer. Germania (for the Germans), Portuguesa de Desportos, and Sports Club Syrio are some of the elite sports clubs formed in Sao Paulo. The elitist vision of an exclusivist sporting practice shows how the less affluent communities were disadvantaged.

Since the footballing instructions were also in English, there was a language barrier that further drove a wedge between the elite (and middle-class communities) and the poor communities. Financial barriers, brought about by poverty. As a result, talented soccer players from poor backgrounds were denied the chance to play first-class football and access to their facilities. Italian community was among the affected party. As much as Europhilia was deep-rooted, Northern European players were swiftly accommodated over the Southerners like Italians.

With the tough conditions and other harsh ordeals suffered by the Italians, they devoted themselves to working their ways up to the top through soccer. Unlike their fellow European counterparts, Italians had to first endure the low-income jobs, insecurity, besides other arduous conditions when they immigrated to Brazil. They formed the Palestra Italia Club that struggled for 7 years (between 1910 and 1917) before finding its way into the Sao Paulo League. Despite the tough tides, they established a significant economic presence in Sao Paulo owning the largest quantities of agricultural assets. 

By 1930, the Italian influence was more than just a club business. They helped establish prominent names in the Brazilian national team squad. Fabrini, Grimaldi, Rico, Fabio, Barbuy, and Luciano are among the players who made Palestra Italia more than just a name. The use of Portuguese for footballing instructions created room for the inclusion of the disadvantaged players, albeit grudgingly, and fostered national unity in Brazil. The Italians also made sure that it was not just an ‘Italian Affair’ but an Italo-Brazilian unity.

With the rise of professionalism, most Brazilian-born Italians emigrated to Italy and other European nations. Their accommodation was not swift as they took most positions that the native Italians assumed were rightfully theirs. Migrants and their children are considered as consumers, politically affiliated, or even soldiers in their fatherland. On the flip side, it appeared to the Brazilians as if the Italians had an anterior motive when nurturing players in Brazil. The dilemma arises as we cannot categorize where the loyalties of these Italo-Brazilian players lie.

Week 8

In the week 8 reading we find out alot about the different populations of race in South America. Brazil and Argentina are home to many Italian and Jewish men and women. The 1934 Italian national team won the World Cup and their celebration across the globe shows the movement of these people across the world. Though this celebration did not come without some harsh truths. Jewish immigrants saw very tough times in South America, the big issue for these men and women was finding a national identity. When reading deeper into the section you find out about the  Club Atletico Atlanta team. The team was founded in the early 1900’s and Jews began to emigrate to Villa Crespo in the 1920’s. Similar to the Jewish fans in South America the Atlanta club dealt with anti semitic comments from opposing teams and fans. By the 1950’s they became known as the “Jewish” team which was seen more as a dis to the club. Though this team would become a sign of pride for Jews in South America being seen as the Jewish team was exciting for them. The clubs lack of success in the 50’s and 60’s prevented them from making any real noise but the fan group grew larger through time. This Atlanta club is a great way of giving Argentine Jews a way to find a cultural pride away from home. Dealing with opposing fans and anti-semitic tropes has only brought the fanbase closer together. This team reminds me of the Texas Western fanbase in the United States. Texas Western was an all black team in 1966 who took on the Kentucky Wildcats who were an all white team. During the time of Jim Crow this game had any implications along with it and Texas Western had to not only beat Kentucky but also be a sign of hope for African Americans across the country. The Jewish community in South America was not only taking on South American clubs but also the fight for national identity.

Week 8

Its unusual to think that there are a large amount of Italian immigrants in Brazil and Argentina but that is the reality and there were a fair amount of Italian immigrants to South America on Italy’s 1934 world cup winning team. I have always found it interesting when you have athletes that basically have a choice of which national team they want to play for. Someone like me for example if I was an athlete I could only play for the USA but we see examples like this where people living in the USA can play for Spain or Canada or France because that is where they were born. People who are immigrants or who are children of immigrants can have a real sense of ethnic or national identity that they hold onto for their entire life. The Italian immigrants were originally not allowed to have their own football team but they were able to form one after banding together with other European immigrants to South America. These Italians were some of the focal points on the Italian team and they held onto that national identity despite pushback from the people in Argentina and the rest of South America. National identity can be stronger than anything and these athletes proved it and they could be shining examples for other immigrants to countries to hold onto that identity. These immigrants also suffered due to the financial hardship they were forced to endure. Many of the immigrants were poor and the teams they were on were made up of people from similar classes. Working class and lower class people made up their professional teams and the upper class wanted nothing to do with them. The immigrants wanted nothing more than to be considered professionals in the eyes of their peers. The idea of transferring to squads in Europe rose from this need by the immigrants to get the support they wanted. Other players not just immigrants began to do the same as well because the European clubs were so highly respected that it would do good for their careers. These moves were criticized especially in Brazil going back to the idea of National Identity. They wanted South Americans to stay put which I can understand but I feel they should be allowed to do that as long as they still play for their home country on the international stage.

Week 8

    For one to successfully look at the history of Argentine Jews, one must look at the history of Club Atlético Atlanta, the football club in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Crespo. Jewish immigrants to Argentina faced many hardships, especially in determining what their national and cultural identity really meant to themselves, but, through watching Atlanta soccer, they were able to simultaneously shape their national identity while the new nation that they came to shaped them, similar to the cliche phrase of U.S. immigration being akin to a melting pot. Unlike the Bethlehem Steel team, the Atlanta club is still the original club that it was in its founding in 1904, although other teams had merged with them as well. Even though the team was founded in 1904, most Jews didn’t emigrate to Villa Crespo until the 1920s. The team became known as “Jewish” in the ‘50s, originally as an insult by rival teams but as a symbol of pride for the fans. The team enjoyed a moderate amount of success throughout the years, but ultimately never again reached the heights of itself in the late ‘50s and ‘60s when they reached the finals of the Copa Argentina.

    The stadium for the Atlanta club became a strong cultural beacon and epicenter for the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. The team gained its “Jewishness” from having at least one Jew on the team’s board and for at least 35 years cumulatively during the 1959-2014 era had a Jewish president, the most famous of which being Leon Kolbowski, for which the current stadium that the team plays in is named after. Jews never made up the majority of the players on the team, although Jewish people did play for the team.

    Like many other football fans, fans of Atlanta have had racist expressions thrown at them. However, they have also thrown racist expressions as well through stadium shouts, a tradition in the institution of football where fans shout offensive chants at each other as a way to get more into the game. These shouts have made tracking anti-semitism against the fans of Atlanta slightly more difficult than it would be without, but, nonetheless, antisemitic things are shouted at Atlanta fans during games.

    Atlanta football is a way for Argentine Jews to assimilate into their Argentinian society whilst holding on to their eastern or central-European traditions. It unites the many different denominations of Judaism and allows them all to celebrate their cultures together in a safe and fun way. Football truly is a sport that transcends cultural boundaries and allows people to come together and be a part of something greater than themselves.

Okay, so this week I read about Atlanta the Argentine club and it’s Jewish identity. I find it interesting because, I did not know this but apparently in most of South America there are Anti-Semitic views. This chapter talks about how Argentine Jews challenged their stereotypes and engaged quite frequently in Sports in Argentina. This article goes on to tell about anti-Semitism that is common in both Europe and South American football. And they also used examples of vile chants by racist rival fans such as a Hitler chant and a Saddam Hussein chant which they said that chant was most popular when Saddam was still alive. It also goes on to mention how Chacarita has many Jewish fans that actually joins in the anti-Semitic chants against Atlanta.

Week 8

 The article Italian Immigrants, Brazilian Football, and the Dilemma of National Identity by Gregg P. Bocketti discuss the different national and ethnic identities held by immigrants or children of immigrants in relation to the sport of football. This particular article opens with the 1934 world cup where Italy brought home the trophy this alone is quite interesting, but what is truly fascinating is the amount of Argentinian Italians that played for Italy. These five or so players were not originally from Italy being born and raised in the cities and countrysides of Argentina, this ultimately raises the question of what really defines your national identity, and in addition, how does this relate to sports? Though ethnicity is something one cannot change, one’s national identity can change, most Americans are the descendants of immigrants, so this is pretty familiar to us but the idea of reverting back to one’s country of origin to play a sport, or to identify more with that country is simply unheard of for me at least. Though this idea started to make sense to me once I contextualized it into terms I could understand, the example I took was from my own life. In North Carolina, many people have come from different states and regions of the United States, and though North Carolina’s football team is the Panthers, many “immigrants” will take on the team of their parents’ home states even if they were born a raised here in North Carolina. The same thing applies to these Italian players from Argentina though they were born and raised in a different country they identify with the Italian football team. The parallel between today and these Italians from South America is interesting to me is one of those people who moved from another state to down here in North Carolina though I was fifteen years old when we moved.  It almost is seen as a tradition to support the team of your ancestors even if you feel at home in your home country or state. You begin to identify more with the state that your team plays in more than the state you live in. In the end, I found this article to be enlightening and the parallels drawn made me relate more to the author of this peace.