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#NoPopcornMedia

A Newsletter. Issue Nº 4

Joga Bonito - How the Beautiful Game Spread Across the World 
by Chika Dunga.

 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"We are so fly. You can't blame us." - (British Nigerian as World Cup Jersey sells out in minutes).
It's World Cup Season. The only time Americans actually watch soccer. In this newsletter, we give you the story behind the evangelization of the English, now global, sport, the growing visibility of the Nigerian Diaspora, the history of desegregating soccer in Brazil, and just a little bit of Pele. Feature on him coming next week.  
Naija No Dey Carry Last
These outfits though. Snazzy. Photo Credit: Nike 
What Does That Even Mean?
It's a Nigerian Pidgin phrase that means Nigerians go for the best and won't ever be last. 

Wait, What's Nigerian Pidgin?
An anglophone patois.  Think Jamaican patois but in Nigeria. Remnants of English and Portugese influence mixed with local languages like Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa. You dey understand? (see what we did here). Although English is the national language of the populous nation, pidgin is the lingua franca in informal environments used as a means to aid communication in the linguistically diverse country - over 250 languages - wowzers.  

But What Are We Talking About?
Nigeria's world cup uniforms are breaking the internet. The jersey hit 3 Million pre - orders, ahead of its May 31st release, breaking records and surpassing all African countries in jersey sales and even some of the biggest clubs in the world. 

OK, How Is Nigeria Relevant to My Life?
If you have a Nigerian friend or two, you may be acquainted with the burgeoning international Afrobeats music scene shipped from the coastal city of Lagos.  The music scene parallels Nigeria's population growth, on pace to be the world's third most populous nation by 2050. However it's the country's diaspora that's really turning heads. Their economic strength resulted in a whopping $20B in remittances sent in 2016, fourth in the world. A former British colony, established communities of Nigerians exist abroad, especially in the UK and the United States. In the latter, their new title as "America's most educated ethnic group" and growing visibility in entertainment, sports, social justice, and policy has attracted an observant audience.  Ambitious swagger and direct ties to the continent, this particular group in the diaspora is one to watch. 
From England to the World 

 
Left: English Football in its primacy; Right: Modern English Football
So Brazil Didn't Create Soccer
No they didn't Soccer originated in England in the late 19th century. Brazilians just made it more fluid and beautiful, hence the Portugese phrase joga bonito which means the beautiful game.  


How Did it Spread?
Soccer was created during the height of British imperialism in the mid 19th century. By 1921, Britain ruled approximately 25% of the world, which means that English culture was a major global export. By 1960, Britain's power waned as the independence movement accelerated across her territories. A new association, the British Commonwealth, was formed comprised of former colonies to preserve the historical and trade ties with England and amongst one another. Some to call it the empire 2.0.


There's A Lot More Diversity - How Did That Happen?
The Windrush Generation. After World War II, Britain suffered huge labor losses. The British government encouraged emigration from its colonies to fire up the economy. The British Nationality Act of 1948 gave British Citizenship to all people living in the UK and its colonies. West Indians emigrated in waves, most notably in 1948 aboard the ship Empire Windrush. Additionally, a huge envoy of Jamaican nurses were recruited to staff the newly established National Health System. The Caribbean population grew from 15,000 in 1951 to 172,000 in 1962. They are widely viewed as a major contributing factor to the rebuilding of the post-war urban London economy. By  1970s an entire generation of Britons of Afro - Caribbean heritage now existed. We'll save the African immigrants for another newsletter. They're a huge piece of the puzzle too. 


West Indians disembark the Empire Windrush in 1948.
Britain's emerging multicultural society. Photo credit: Getty Images
Desegregating Brazilian Soccer 
Does Brazil Have Blacks Too ? (Yes, George W. Bush)
From the looks of Brazilian media, you may think Brazil is in Europe. Just google "Brazilian models." But the country actually looks more like this:






 

Brazilian national soccer team. Photo credit: ESPN



Very colorful, yes? Nearly 4 million captive Africans were sent to Brazil, more than any other nation. But Brazil is complicated, we'll save the country for another issue. Back to soccer. 

Ok, so How did Soccer Get to Brazil? 
It arrived in the late 19th century and was only played in [Anglo - Brazilian] elite circles. The sport soon spread to all socioeconomic classes. 

Nice - and then Pele Happened! World Domination?
Not quite. Before Pele, many Brazilian players of African descent faced major obstacles. Brazil ended slavery in 1888. Instituted universal male suffrage in 1889, but didn't quite work out the kinks around Afro - Brazilians. They weren't considered a part of the country. Brazil wanted them hidden due to their ideal for a white nation and polity. The most popular clubs resisted entry of Blacks. The first mixed race team to win a title was banned the following year for playing. 

We Want Trophies
Brazil had a major inferiority complex as a multi ethnic society. The elites strove to preserve the "Old World" order and saw their colorful hybrid society as problematic. Soccer was still not professionalized so only players from wealthy backgrounds could afford to play essentially -- for fun. But prejudice and classism couldn't stop the soccer itch. Brazilians wanted to win and that meant finding the best talent.

Soccer was professionalized in 1933. Brazil had its first black player in the 1934 World Cup. The professionalization of the sport allowed lower classes to earn a living from playing. However, there were still many hurdles to jump.
Leônidas da Guia, the nation's first black player, was awarded Player of the Tournament in the 1938 World Cup. His visibility encouraged discouraged opened a space for Brazil to debate it's racial heritage and acknowledged it's African one. But losses in the following tournaments rekindled doubts held by the elites that Brazil's racial cocktail negatively impacted the country. 


Then, Pele Happened.
A young Pele with his first day at Santos. A couple years later, he would lead Brazil to it's First World Cup victory
 
Pele, Garrincha, and others helped established joga bonito, the beautiful game, on the world stage and solidified the future of Brazil's racially integrated team. But's its not a happy ending. As mentioned, we have so much to cover on Brazil. 
 
Up Next: Pele 
Our next issue will focus exclusively on the superstar that took the beautiful game to new heights and the paradox of his fame in a racially agnostic Brazil. 
Like it? Share with 5 Friends! (seriously)
what is this?
Welcome to the #NoPopcornMedia newsletter. I'm frustrated by the lack of high quality journalism and storytelling - especially around black focused content. So I decided to create my own newsletter with curated stories that I find interesting and I think you would too.  My hope is that these stories expand your world and act as a catalyst for your future. Maybe its traveling to new country, sowing an idea, or dating that guy/girl -- whatever it is, stories are bridges to new discoveries.  
 
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