THE BLOG
05/21/2010 02:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Brazil: Futebol Before Politics

Hillary Clinton's food fight over the Iranian nuclear deal got low ratings in Brazil because 100 million fans preferred watching what they think is more important, namely, coach Dunga announcing his picks for next month's World Cup in South Africa.

Choosing team players over troublesome superstars, Dunga, who captained the 1994 World Cup winners, unwittingly reopened the broader discussion of how individuals and groups are competing to shape the national identity of a Brazil that is now a major agricultural and economic power.

Boasting a strong team work ethic, Brazil has won the world's most prestigious -- and most heavily bet-upon -- sports event five times. But the individualism promoted by globalist sports marketing with its high salaries and endorsement deals is starting to erode national culture. And the parallel business-to-business meritocracy promoted by globalists and US-style neoconservatives excludes the majority of young Brazilians by putting an expensive paywall around education, communications and software tools.

Public secondary education, the federal university system, and pastimes like samba clubs that create the colorful Carnaval and the sandlot football president Lula played when he was a kid are more inclusive activities and draw their supporters from an organized society operating under the aegis of a social contract between citizens and the state -- a contract that globalists everywhere want to destroy.

When Brazil defeated Italy to win its third World Cup in 1970, Team Obama adviser the Trilateralist Zbigniew Brezinski was already sowing the seeds of modern globalism, evangelizing that the nation-state model was no longer a viable form of social organization.

Today, subway and billboard advertising promotes the concept of Brazil a "nation for everybody" and the national futebol team helps hold the concept together. But superstar syndrome, along with sports like auto racing, golf and tennis that emphasize individual performance and appeal to a growing middle class that skews toward globalist business-to-business values, could help cause Brazil to take a back seat to Italy as the world's dominant football nation.

It's already happened in neighboring Argentina where more than 53% of the population is of Italian heritage and the best players become overnight millionaires when sold to teams in Italy's top league.

Because globalist television promotes individual sports that compete with futebol for ad revenue, Italian teams are already subsidizing Brazil's cash-strapped professional football system, paying megabucks to buy world class players. Companies like Fiat advertise on team jerseys and stadium billboards. But you don't see Italy's top players in Recife, Goias or Porto Alegre; they stay at home. Eight of the 23 players on Brazil's national team play in Italy and coach Dunga himself is considering an offer to coach there when the World Cup competition ends.

Historically, Brazilian coaches have helped grow football at the development level in places like Japan, Uzbekistan, Ghana and Kuwait. But Italians, who have a knack for blending superstar egos with team players now dominate what some sportswriters consider the top of the football food chain, the English Premier League, coaching at Manchester City, Chelsea, West Ham and even the England national team. Betting on Premier League games is a feature attraction at shops in England, and at popular Nevada casinos.

Dunga's decision to keep regulars Adriano and Ronaldinho off the national team touched off a monster debate in newspapers and online media. Even president Lula came out against Ronaldinho, questioning the Milan superstar's ability to be a team player. And Adriano, the powerful attacker who helped lead Flamengo to a Brazilian Cup last season after leaving Italy under a cloud, sealed his own fate, beating up his girlfriend and hanging out with unsavory characters.

The backlash went even further. After the Adriano situation went public, the female president of the Flamengo club, Patricia Amorim, abruptly fired Andrade, who coached the cup winning team for maintaining the wrong kind of team values.

"I wasn't comfortable with the way the football was being run and I want to feel joy and pleasure at being here," Amorim said. Transposed to US sports culture, it was the equivalent of NFL Super Bowl winning coach Sean Payton being fired because one of his players was seen hanging out in the Quarter with the likes of Junior Gotti or the dearly departed Russian godfather Vyacheslav Ivankov.

Adriano got a reprimand this time around and continues as a starter with Flamengo. Growing up in a favela, he learned early that group rules were essential to survival. And while futebol gave him a ticket out, he, like many players from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, was not prepared psychologically to adapt to the individualism required by a Rio kid who just knows football and gets dropped into the fast lane of sophisticated Milan society.

The joy and pleasure that Flamengo president Amorim likes is what Brazil's national identity has been all about. But with Brazil at the center of the world stage the stakes are much higher. It's not about who gets top dollar to put the biscuit in the basket. It's about income distribution, access to higher education,lower credit card rates,Windows versus Linux and quality versus price.

World Cup football will hold the minds of a 200 million nation well into July. With the first round presidential vote in October, that leaves a just 90-day window for full-tilt campaigning. In fact, every Brazilian presidential election is preceded by a World Cup and its only a matter of time until Ladbrokes and Joe Coral put odds on when the World Economic Forum in Davos will try to change that. After all, it took over two years for their friends over at Team Obama to sell the "change you can believe in" message to America...