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Bolsonaro, Ronaldinho and the broken Brazilian election

Why formerplayers are endorsing the Brazilian Trump?

Bolsonaro, Ronaldinho and the broken Brazilian election Why formerplayers are endorsing the Brazilian Trump?

These days was a growing debate in Italy about why the most prominent Italian athletes are not  politically engaged, as happens every day more in the United States. Not even the time to develop the debate more extensively than from Brazil we get an answer: because they do not always choose the "right" side. If in the US for now the demonstrations have been in disagreement with Trump, in Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, which is really called the "the Brazilian Trump" is instead gaining consensus from some of the most prominent names of Brazilian football - in consequence of the world - and in the first round of the presidential elections he tore Fernando Haddad, his opponent, settling on about 47% of the votes against 28% of the latter.


Who is Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro is a fascist and a populist. Born sixty-three years ago in the state of São Paulo by parents of Italian descent, he spent 17 years in the Brazilian military forces, reaching the rank of captain. We’re talking about the years of the Brazilian military dictatorship, which began in 1964 and ended in 1984; period that Bolsonaro never lost the chance to regret, as when he claimed that the only mistake of those years was to "torture and not kill". In spite of this Bolsonaro actually has a long political career behind is back, mostly passed to the margins: elected member of the state of San Paolo in 1988 with the Christian Democratic Party, three years later becomes a federal deputy and from that moment is a stable presence in the Brazilian Senate. The turning point for him probably occurred in 2016, when Dilma Rousseff fell from the position of president of Brazil, thanks to the vote of the Brazilian Senate, following accusations of falsifying the country's budget to be re-elected: among the 61 votes in favor of deposition there is obviously also his. In January 2018 the decisive move: he abandoned his historical party, and moved on to the Brazilian Social-Liberal Party, of extreme right-wing and national-conservative orientation and presented himself to the presidential elections. It was immediately given by favorite, especially after a madman stabbed him to the liver during a rally; the emotional response of a completely confused country is all with him. In addition, during the same hours of the event, the virtual candidature from the prison, of the former president Lula, was rejected, a KO punch to the chin of the Left Party.


As noted by many, Bolsonaro has never shown an electoral program, he has limited himself to making a policy of aggressive tone against the left, against minorities, against crime, in short, a policy of "against" and nothing else. In practice Bolsonaro's consent has developed in a very similar way to that of Trump in America or Salvini here for us: a demagogic and populist campaign that has leveraged the emotionality of  people that, especially in its middle-low classes, felt betrayed by the historical Workers' Party of Dilma and Lula, with the latter entangled in the scandals of bribes that surfaced in 2014 and unable to step aside in time to regain confidence in the party to the voters. So they managed to letting win, unless of resounding reversals to the next round, a homophobic individual ("I would prefer a dead son to a gay one"), warmongering, violent ("a dead bandit is a good bandit" for years his slogan), despotic and sexist ("women have to earn less because they become pregnant" and turning to a colleague of the senate “i don’t rape you because you do not deserve it") to make it, according to a now too recognizable scheme, paladin of incorruptibility and honesty, depositary of the molar and those values ​​lost due to previous political management.

Porque Dinho?

If we think of Ronaldinho on the field, we can only smile. The elastic, the no-look, heels, double steps and overturned, those rebellious hair and the teeth always out to form a smile among the most contagious ever seen. There is not a person on the face of earth who could think of the player Ronaldinho and try even the smallest bit of dislike, even the same fans of Real Madrid had to recognize its greatness, with a standing ovation of the Bernabeu that will pass to the history, reserved only to the greatest champions of history (the last player to receive it was Francesco Totti). His way of playing, pure joy, unconsciousness and fun without paying close attention to anything else were what made all of us fall in love with him, they have also been for years the presentation ticket of his country abroad; but over time they have also become its weakness, to show caricatured traits. 


But if there is a world that we certainly can not associate with the Gaucho image is that of politics. For this reason, when in March his official membership of the Republican Party was made official, and seriously considering his candidacy for the Brazilian congress, the news did not raise more clamor than usual; on the other hand, since he has stopped playing, Dinho has never been stuck and has committed himself to a thousand and no commitments more or less inherent in the world of football. In short, it seemed only the latest chapter in the life of a boy of thirty-seven who, to date, has not yet understood what he wants to do when he grows up. But the situation changed a short time ago when Ronaldinho began to show his support for Bolsonaro, posing first with the book written by the former army captain, and only in these days with an eloquent tweet in which he poses with the shirt number 17, Bolsonaro code for electronic voting. "For a better Brazil, I want peace, security and someone to give us joy. I chose to live in Brazil and I want a better Brazil for everyone".

We can’t understand this endorsement. Beyond the two opposing public figures that the two incarnate for Brazil, especially in extra-national field, there are two further issues: Ronaldinho is black, Bolsonaro is a well-known racist, who over the years has let himself go to disgusting comments, for which was also investigated; Ronaldinho was born poor and is an orphan of a father from the age of eight, Bolsonaro is a symbol of an establishment of wealth and ruthlessness towards the poorest and most disadvantaged. But the Gaucho is not the only "unsuspecting" endorser of Bolsonaro, which among the players found support primarily from an old acquaintance of Italian football, that Felipe Melo now in force at Palmeiras that months ago posted a video in support of the candidate and then on September 17, after a goal signed against Bahia, in the post game he explicitly dedicated to the politician.


Then there are also Jadson of Corinthians, Rivaldo, who called him "the ideal candidate for Brazil", and last but second only to Ronaldinho, Lucas Moura, now at Tottenham. Lucas also went to Twitter for his compliments and support for the right-wing candidate, particularly after the attack mentioned above.


The only voice out of the chorus for now, came from the king of free kicks, Juninho Pernambucano, who also chose a more institutional media like El Paìs Brasil to whom he could entrust his own words, summing up perfectly all the perplexities that have arisen up to now in a simple sentence:

"I get crazy when I see players and former players on the right. We come from below, we are the people. How can we take the other side? Will you support Bolsonaro, my brother?"

An interview of rare lucidity and interest during which the former player of Lyon addresses several burning issues of the young democracy of his country, pitting them in a clear and concise, and in which is unbalanced even in a prediction that seems to be coming true: "Our democracy is very young, but the foundations would be to understand that everyone's vote has the same weight. Black, white, poor, rich: no vote is worth more than another. The problem is that, after so long a leftist government, despair over the resumption of power has blinded some people. Did you need those before you have Dilma? Aécio, Eduardo Cunha, Temer and ... The press, then! He tore our votes and brought us to this terror. Support Dilma now, at the polls! As bad as the country was before, we never got into this situation, where an extremist is voted as president. You can write there: the mainstream media will support Bolsonaro if he goes into the second round.“

On the other, Brazil also has several profoundly leftist figures within the history of its football. Just think of Sòcrates and the experience of the Corinthian Democracy or the coach of the Brazilian national champion of the world in 1970, João Saldanha, journalist and communist, more recently we have Romario, from 2010 deputy in Parliament elected in the ranks of the Socialist Party. More generally, most of the great Brazilian clubs, starting from the aforementioned Corinthians but also the Palmeiras (the Bolsonaro's favorite team) and the Flamengo, have taken the distance from the candidate president.


The speech seems to be very "simple": despite being the origins of these humble players, now they are also part of a minority of rich who must first safeguard their interests, nothing new. Perhaps it is the fear of holding on to one's own riches, perhaps the desire to further increase it or simply the total inexperience in the political sphere and the naive passion for a figure that passes to be honest and clean, which promises seas and mountains relying on feelings almost pornographic in their being so graphic and clear, without nuances. The fact is that this has shown us the other side of the coin when it comes to athletes and politics, a combination that reserves good and bad surprises.

thanks to Valentina Bernardi for helping with the Portuguese