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"When it came to decisive games, the Brazilian players were weak. Against the Europeans they would melt like ice lollies in the sun," writes the biographer of the Brazilian football idol, Garrincha*, describing popular stereotypes of the national football team after their defeats in the World Cup campaigns of 1950 and 1954.


He adds: "Some got ill the night before the game. Some suffered aches, some started fighting on the field to stop trembling. They just hadn't got the bottle for decisive games."


The team's victory in Sweden in 1958 - preparations for which included a psychologist - turned that perception on its head.


The triumph had a massive impact on Brazilian self-confidence, ending what Nelson Rodriguez, the Brazilian playwright,
describes as the country's "vagabond" or outsider complex.


Success has been repeated on three other occasions - in 1962, 1970 and in1994 - and, on each occasion, has had an impact way beyond the world of sport.


"It could seem mad but I would argue that if Brazil had not won the 1994 World cup, Fernando Henrique Cardoso would have lost to Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (known as Lula) in that year's presidential elections," saysJuca Kfouri, a leading Brazilian football writer and commentator.


"Brazil was at its lowest ebb after the impeachment of (Fernando) Collor (the president elected in 1990) and the tragic death in 1994 of Ayrton Senna (Brazil's Grand Prix racing driver). In a way, that game of 1994 rescued Brazilian amor propre.


"But success has brought its own difficulties. One of the problems is that the Brazilian public's expectations are now so great they have created a fear of failure and are inhibiting both the national team and its most successful club sides from demonstrating the natural flair that has traditionally been the strength of their game.


Tostao, a gifted centre-forward in the 1970 World Cup winning side, who trained as a doctor and psychologist after his retirement from football,describes expectations as "absurd". He attributes them to a "compensation complex" and says they cause great damage.


"We have a third world inferiority complex in many things but, in football, we can show we are better. Footballers in the World Cup are seen as great heroes going to war. The responsibility is enormous and to lose is totally demoralising.


"The anxiety not to lose has led Brazilian coaches to invest heavily inpreparation and organisation and discipline above flair, characteristics which are more usually associated with the European game. Winning at all costs has lead to a loss of adventure and spontaneity, elements that havecontributed to what Brazilians call "futebol arte".


Meanwhile, in recent years, there has been some boring football. Brazil won its last world cup (in 1994) on penalties following a 0-0 draw against Italy, after a tournament in which the national team had a reputation for cautious and defensive play.


In the 1998 World Cup final, it lost 3-0 to France in Paris. In this year's world club championships, held in Brazil in January, two Brazilian club sides - Corinthians of Sao Paulo and Vasco da Gama of Rio de Janeiro - fought out a dull defensive goalless draw, before Corinthians, like the national team six years ago, won on penalties.


International victories have, nevertheless, cemented the popularity of football within Brazilian culture and have paved the way for growing commercialisation.


Companies began to exploit the game's popularity in the mid-1980s, first through advertising their brands on the shirts of leading clubs and the national side.


And, more recently, through long-term deals that allow them to exploit the popularity of a club in exchange for investment in infrastructure, such as grounds and players.


But Tostao says the increasing commercialisation of football has created a"paranoia" among fans that the game's traditional passion will be sacrificed to narrower commercial interest.


Fans worry that if clubs are controlled by commercial interests, they will be more likely to sell their best players to the top European teams.


Since 1990, there have been more than 2,000 transfer deals involving Brazilian players moving to, from or between foreign clubs.


Among the most famous of these departees are Ronaldo, playing in Italy, and Rivaldo, who has moved to Spain.


Hicks Muse, the US investment group that backs Corinthians, also has a dealwith Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte, for example.


"There is a fear that the arrival of money will end the passion and beauty of the game," says Tostao.


"In Brazil, there is a prejudice that everything is underhand. People don't have confidence in the market. There is a suspicion that commercialism will lead to greater robbery.


"Other critics, however, suggest that the problem is not too muchcommercialisation but too little. In some ways, Brazilian football is a microcosm of the private sector as a whole. It is dependent on external demand for its raw materials - in this case football talent - and its businesses are under-capitalised.


Few Brazilian teams own their own grounds and most depend on the sale of players in order to survive.


Because football clubs are essentially constituted as philanthropic organisations rather than commercial businesses, they are often managed in an amateur and, sometimes, corruptfashion.


The institutions that control Brazilian football - the state and federal football associations - impose a framework that makes life difficult for the bigger clubs. The interests of state and federal football associations effectively predominate over those of the clubs and national team.


To meet the interests of smaller clubs that control the state associations,all clubs' top teams are obliged to compete in lengthy state championships.


These help to keep the small teams alive but are burdensome and unremunerative for the bigger clubs.


Brazilian players are often asked to play more than 90 games a season. The sheer number of games makes it difficult for fans to attend, even though ticket prices are lower than in Europe (usually between $5 and $10).


Typically, crowds for games in state championships are only about 5,000-7,000. "We have a socialisation of misery. To maintain the structure of power in Brazilian football you have levelling out from the bottom," says Mr Kfouri.


Efforts to combat this state of affairs have run into resistance. Five years ago, Pele, who was made sport minister by president Cardoso, drafted legislation that would have made clubs become companies and publish transparent annual accounts and given players the same rights of contract as they have enjoyed in Europe since the Bosman ruling.


"Capitalism has still not arrived in Brazilian football," says Mr Kfouri.


"It is going to impose itself on this amateur structure but there is going to be a lot of resistance from the old guard. But it will take time."
 

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Commenting on the Pele law.
Weel he basically wants to give players a bosman ruling kind of deal. After 24 years the player can go anywere, and the club that brought up the player would receive nothing.
As most of the money the brazilian clubs gets are from transfers from these top players, BRazilian club footabll would dissapear...as would the Brazilian players, cause they would not be developed into a competive and winning mentality. Pele's law has many errors, in accordance to the "Brazilian reality". We cannot have the same laws as Europe, cause its diffenret economies and societies, and the Brazilian clubs would benefit nothing of developing players!

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GAVIOES DA FIEL
Pelo Corinthians, com muito amor ate o fim.
A Corrente Jamais Sera Quebrada!
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