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How Nike and Corteiz restart Joga Bonito

From Ronaldinho's crossbars to Phil Foden's

How Nike and Corteiz restart Joga Bonito From Ronaldinho's crossbars to Phil Foden's

Like many facets of modern football, Pele is a central figure. Known the world over for his on-field wizardry, technical ability, and unique inevitability, the Brazilian great is also credited for popularising the term ‘Joga Bonito’: The Beautiful Game.

Whilst the origins of the term remain disputed to this day, with English football commentator Stuart Hall using the phrase in 1958, the notion that football is the world’s most beautiful game is an undisputed notion, mostly. Unlike many other sports, football is unlimited in its capacity to be played, with street football originating in the pre-nineteenth century fields of Europe often described as mob football or folk football. The game need not be played with a ball, anything you can kick in a relatively controlled way will do - and many of us will have more than a few experiences of making goalposts out of jumpers or any other noticeably large enough object to count. That said, the determination of how high the cross-bar is has always been subjective, not everything can be accurately measured.

Fast-forward to the contemporary and the game we know continues to evolve, whilst still remaining very much a game of the streets. Now football is a global language, a culture composed of fashion and style, music and emblems. The most recent and arguably most prominent example of this is the recent Air Max 95 collaboration between elusive London streetwear brand Corteiz, spearheaded by founder Clint, and Nike, arguably the most prominent sportswear brand of all time. 

The Air Max 95 is a silhouette famed for its street style appeal, timeless aesthetic, and global fan base. Whilst Jordans have forever been the grail for many streetwear enthusiasts, the Air Max 95 has consistently been an engaging presence. In the UK and across Europe, the Air Max 95 has become a symbol of streetwear independence, a distancing from traditional models providing a sense of identity away from more standard or potentially popular models typically worn throughout the United States across the ‘90s and early 2000s. 

With this collaboration, football has, unsurprisingly, played a central role. The initial announcement video was a crossbar challenge in collaboration with Real Madrid’s Champions League-winning young superstar Eduardo Camavinga. The meaning behind this was clear, the trainer and the two brands are an emerging presence in youth culture, whilst also being a product capable of garnering adoration for its aesthetic whilst being durable enough to clatter a football from the halfway line and beautifully hit the crossbar. 

Yet, the promotional videos have not stopped there and Camavinga is not the only young superstar leading the campaign. The most recent Corteiz video gauges the fast-paced announcements throughout Korea, Japan, England, and France, coupled with meme-culture mainstays such as consistent explosions and facial zooms. British singer Jorja Smith makes a glancing appearance whilst Manchester City and England star Phil Foden continues the crossbar legacy leading the video with a hattrick of crossbar hits broken up between juggling the ball and throwing in a few round-the-worlds just for good measure. 

For those paying close attention, you will have noticed in the top right-hand corner of the screen as Foden is dancing with the football in his Corteiz x Air Max 95 the TV channel is Joga TV, a clear reference to the newest evolution of the Beautiful Game. This video is a clear message that there is a new, perhaps more gritty form of streetwear making its way back into the mainstream. Contemporary culture never stops, it only ever evolves. The key players who many have touted as the next global superstars are now performing on the main stage. They are no longer considered players with potential, they are players who are fulfilling their potential. 

Seventeen years ago, Thierry Henry starred in the famous 2006 Joga Bonito Nike advert narrated by the enigmatic Eric Cantona. The year prior to this, football’s greatest showman Ronaldinho was featured, alongside Eric Cantona opening the famed golden briefcase, taking part in the Joga TV cross-bar challenge to advertise the then brand new white and gold Tiempo Air Legend 1’s. The Corteiz x Air Max 95 is the newest iteration, a further evolution. Proof that street football is the essence of the game, that the youngest stars can rise to the very top, and that football and fashion continue to be one of the most significant cultural crossovers globally. Much like contemporary culture, Joga Bonito will never fade, only evolve.