Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2014, Pages 36-47
Pelé, racial discourse and the 1958 World Cup (Article)
Department of Anthropology and FIOCRUZ scholarship, Federal University (PPGSA/FCS/UFRJ), São Paulo, Brazil
The aim of this essay is to map out the racial discourses of the 1950s, particularly those pertinent to the 1958 Soccer World Cup, in order to better understand the main ideas about race, which were in vogue at the time when Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pelé) became (inter)nationally famous as a great sports star. The essay argues that Pelé's statements regarding race and race relations in Brazil were inherently based on the discourses prevalent among academics and Brazil's black activists during the 1950s. Pelé's professional asceticism and his belief in individualism, cultivated during his youth in the city of Bauru, were further reinforced by the racial discourses of the 1950s. These views led him to believe that any discrimination he might encounter due to his colour and class could be overcome with a disciplined and professional attitude. Today, this sort of ascetic view of the world has been accused by certain segments of Brazil's black movements as being insufficient to overcome the supposedly irresolvable inequalities that exist between Brazil's black and white populations. Pelé, however, has not changed his position regarding anti-black discrimination, choosing to continue to emphasize professionalism and discipline as the two most formidable tools in the fight against racial discrimination and inequality. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
ISSN: 14660970Source Type: Journal Original language: English
DOI: 10.1080/14660970.2013.854557Document Type: Article