Walter Casagrande laughs at the soccer players who do not dare to wear the bracelet of the LGTBI movement in the World Cup in Qatar. “During the Brazilian dictatorship,” he recalls, “the Corinthians players who made up the Corinthian Democracy movement wore a shirt that called for general elections. The military ordered it removed and we met with the coach and the president of the club. And what did we do? Go out and play with the Democracia Corinthiana shirts!”.
“The secret police booked us, we endured threats of imprisonment and torture without visibility,” he says. “They could have killed us and no one would have known. Today they threaten you and with social networks the world finds out in a second. If Maradona, Cantona, Gullit, Socrates or I played in this World Cup we would have put on the rainbow bracelet. Infantino problem! Neuer, Mbappe, Messi, Neymar… FIFA couldn’t kick them out. The threat of showing them a yellow card is a bluff.”
Casagrande is a legend in Brazil. He formed with Socrates one of the most beloved couples in national football; He won a Champions League with Porto in 1987, was a figure in Torino and represented the team in the 1986 World Cup. He never interrupted his political activism. Before traveling to Qatar, where he analyzes the championship for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, he collaborated in the recovery of land expropriated from the Pataxo indigenous people, in Minas Gerais.
Like many of his countrymen, he was outraged that high-profile players in the current Brazilian team openly positioned themselves in favor of Jair Bolsonaro, before the last presidential elections, which Lula finally won. “Bolsonaro is a criminal, homophobic, racist, aggressor of women, he is destroying the Amazon”, he says. “It’s absurd that a soccer player supports that guy! But Neymar, Thiago Silva or Dani Alves declared their support for him. This changed the perception of many people of Brazil. How are you going to fall in love with some players who support a fascist? Richarlison stepped to the side. He didn’t lose his roots. When in the pandemic people died in hospitals in the Amazon due to a lack of ventilators, he was the only one who made donations.
What he has done since September in Ligue 1 cannot be a parameter. This season he scored only two goals in the Champions League, against Maccabi Haifa. Two years ago Neymar was not decisive in a Champions League match
The soccer examination that Casagrande makes of Neymar, injured against Serbia, is not much more rosy. “Rodrygo gives more dynamism to Brazil’s attack,” he says. “The locker room likes Neymar; but against Serbia he was slow, without a start, without the speed to stand out. I don’t know how negative his absence will be. I don’t think Neymar was in great shape before the World Cup. What he has done since September in Ligue 1 cannot be a parameter. This season he scored only two goals in the Champions League, against Maccabi. It’s been two years since Neymar hasn’t been decisive in a Champions League match”.
“In terms of football,” he observes, “the expectations that Neymar generated were as great as his celebrity. But when he plays the celebrity it doesn’t make a difference. Great player? About what? Was he world champion? No. Was he Champion of the Champions League? When he played with Messi. Did He Decide Matches? Yes, in a spectacular Barcelona. If he had stayed at Barcelona, he would have been awarded the Ballon d’Or. Now Neymar brings celebrity to the game and that makes him lose focus.
In Qatar love is forbidden! The ultimate reality of the repression of gays and women is the prohibition of love. And when you forbid love, what’s the point of football?
His theory indicates that Brazilian soccer changed when the players became more individualistic. “The generations from 58 to 86 played with an authentic Brazilian style,” he warns. “Brazil is an intrinsically democratic country. It is your culture. The Brazilian does not know how to do anything alone. We all go to the beach together, to drink beer, to drink coffee. Soccer, volleyball, carnival, are collective phenomena. The Brazilian people are used to coming together to do anything. It is its essence and it is transferred to football. But today 99% of the national team players live isolated, with their families, in Europe. That is contagious to the selection: the symbol is Vinicius. At Flamengo he associated more, in Europe he concentrated on dribbling. The same thing happened to me: in Italy I stopped throwing down walls because no one would give them back to me”.
You don’t have to ask him about Qatar to guess that his vision will be critical. “In the West, women are also discriminated against and racism, homophobia and machismo are practiced, but in Qatar It’s official!” she exclaims, with a hint of irony. “The most important thing about a World Cup is that the people of the host country love football. That generates an energy that multiplies with those who come from abroad and it is something that I do not see in the streets of Qatar. The vast majority of fans who travel to a World Cup do so to have fun, to fall in love, to be passionate. They are looking for fleeting romances! But here in Qatar love is forbidden! The ultimate reality of the repression of gays and women is the prohibition of love. And when you forbid love, what’s the point of football?
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Source: EL PAIS