The game and the people

The Origins of Football in Brazil

Docas do Mercado da Praia do Peixe (1892) by Coleção G. ErmakoffThe Football Museum

What brings us together...

In Brazilian harbors, in the end of 19th century, all kinds of people landed: youngsters of wealthy families returning from their studies in Europe, the first groups of immigrant workers, engeneers and railroad builders which opened the countryside, sailors from all over the world. What those immigrants with so different social backgrounds could possibly have in common?

Damas com travesseiros nas mãos (1917) by Museu da Imagem e do Som / RJThe Football Museum

Estação Vila Mariana em Santo Amaro (1900) by Fundação Energia e Saneamento SPThe Football Museum

Bolas (1900/1927) by Museu do FutebolThe Football Museum

.... is the ball.

the answer is in a round object, made of rubber and leather, and played with the feet.

Operários na fabricação de ferraduras (1910) by Iconographia / Cia da MemóriaThe Football Museum

With the ball arrived the football.

Of British origin , this sport quickly spread all over the world, from harbor to harbor, from railroad to railroad, from school to school. In Brazil, it was introduced and appropriated by different social layers, from the rich students to urban factory workers from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

But not without being touched by the social abyss of the time.

Imagem de Charles Miller (2013) by Hugo TakeyamaThe Football Museum

Charles Miller,

student from São Paulo with a British ascendence, Miller is an outstanding character of this history. In November 1894, after studying for over 10 years in Southhampton, he brought back from England the ball and the rulebook of Football Association, that was established in 1863. A few months later, in April 1895, he helped to organize a match between the teams of São Paulo Railway and São Paulo Gaz Company, in a region of the city called Várzea do Carmo.

Livro de regras, 1880, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Esquina da Rua Líbero Badaró (1900) by Iconographia / Cia da MemóriaThe Football Museum

The factory courtyards, the riversides, the newly paved streets, the empty lots, everywhere was a football field. And they were not always like today.

Do you want to know how were the lines and marks in a football field, since the definition of its rules in England in 1863, until 1902?

Charles Miller entre os companheiros do S.P.A.C. (1894/1900) by Centro Britânico SPThe Football Museum

Athletic Associations and Clubs

At the turning of the 19th to the 20th century, the most practiced sport activities in urban centers were rowing, cricket, horse riding and cycling. So, the first clubs dedicated themselves to those practices, such as São Paulo Athletic Club, founded in 1888. This club formed, in 1894, one of the first football teams, led by Charles Miller. In 1898 the Associação Atlética Mackenzie College was founded.

Equipe de remo do Vasco, Acervo Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama, 1905, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Público na Avenida Beira-Mar, Acervo Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama, 1905, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Basquete feminino no clube Associação Atlética São Paulo (1920/1929) by Associação Atlética São PauloThe Football Museum

Elite Clubs

During the first decades of the 20th century, Brazilian football was an amateur practice, destined to the free time of students who could exhibit the civilized trends coming from Europe. To play football at the clubs was a practice for young men, played for fun and leisure.

Sócios do Club Sportivo de Equitação (1910) by Museu da Imagem e do Som / RJThe Football Museum

The clubs environment revealed the ways of the elite and to watch sport matches, whether football, tennis, cricket of something else, was an event for the high society.

Marriages and business were arranged during the sport events.

Torcedores no Estádio das Laranjeiras (1920) by Acervo Fluminense Futebol ClubeThe Football Museum

It was a socially controlled space, far from the mass events that overcome the scene in the follonwing decades.

The dresscode of the first supporters was characterized by a distinctive elegance: hats, suits, fancy dresses... and a tissue, a fundamental prop to cheer for the athletes

Olavo Bilac batiza barco da equipe de remo do Botafogo (1901) by Acervo Botafogo de Futebol e RegatasThe Football Museum

With the club sport, the ways of supporting arise

The Brazilian expression "torcer" (to twist, but also to cheer), indicating the simpathy for a team, came from the common practice, at the bleachers from the beginning of the century, of twist the tisue. Whether to dry the sweat from the sunny afternoons, whether to swing during the thrill for a team, the tissue was a registered mark of the bleachers in the beginning of last century.

Chuteiras (1900/1927) by Museu do FutebolThe Football Museum

The first club exclusively dedicated to football was the Sport Club Internacional from São Paulo, founded in 1899 and now extinct.

Just after that, it was founded the Sport Club Germânia by german Hans Nobling, known nowadays as Esporte Clube Pinheiros.

As Pinheiros no longer practice football, the oldest and still operating club in Brazil is Sport Club Rio Grande (RS). It is known as "Grandpa".

In the first decade of 20th century, the organization of football championships rehearsed its first steps.

Charles Miller entre os companheiros do S.P.A.C. (1894/1900) by Centro Britânico SPThe Football Museum

In 1902, the first São Paulo Championship - the first official championship in Brazil - was played by five clubs, all from the capital: Associação Athletica Mackenzie College, Sport Club Germânia, Club Athletico Paulistano, o Sport Club Internacional and São Paulo Athletic Club, who won the first trophy.

Time do Fluminense (1910) by Iconographia / Cia da MemóriaThe Football Museum

A similar proccess had occured in Rio de Janeiro, where Fluminense Football Club was founded in 1902.

Afterwards, in 1904, there were created Botafogo Football Club (now Botafogo de Futebol and Regatas), Bangu Athletic Club and América Football Club. The first Rio de Janeiro's championship, won by Fluminense, occured in 1906.

Equipe do Bangu, Iconographia / Cia da Memória, 1911, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Joaquim Antônio com troféus, Acervo Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas, 1904, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Dirigentes e sócios do Vasco (1920/1929) by Acervo Clube de Regatas Vasco da GamaThe Football Museum

Os primeiros times formados por operários (1895/1899) by Iconographia / Cia da MemóriaThe Football Museum

Worker's Clubs

Most elite clubs forbade the participation of black and mixed blood athletes at the associations. But they, who were monstly fatory workers, also practiced football during their leisure hours, in shift breaks at the factories or in the outskirts fields, making their own associations.

Equipe do Fluminense (1916) by Agência O GloboThe Football Museum

In the 1920s, football became popular and conquer the masses

In 1919, Brasil host and wins the 3rd South-American Championship.

The Fluminense's Laranjeiras Stadium, is built to host twenty thousand spectators of this international scale event.

It is the first time that a Football National Team is organized, and the first time that we cheer for the Brazilian nation.

Equipe do Flamengo, Agência O Globo, 1915, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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As football popularize, it became harder and harder for the clubs to maintain the social barrier against blacks, workers and uneschooled persons.

A equipe do Vasco da Gama, Acervo Clube de Regatas Vasco da Gama, 1923, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Vasco da Gama and Bangu, from Rio de Janeiro, during the 1920s already had players who were employees of their teams.

Dirigentes e jogadores do Botafogo (1910) by Acervo Botafogo de Futebol e RegatasThe Football Museum

With the proliferation of clubs and the popularization of championships, it became harder to maintain the excludent amateurship.

Players coming from the lower social layers saw in the football a possibility to earn an extra money and started to receive money to play for the clubs.

The outskirt clubs, in Rio de Janeiro, such as Vasco da Gama, pressed for the end of the amateur policy of the football federation... But the elite clubs had resisted as much as they could against the new times.

Equipe do Palestra Italia, Iconographia / Cia da Memória, 1926, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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Palestra Italia F. C, now S. E. Palmeiras, invict São Pulo champion from 1926. With a white hood, the player Bianco Gambini, author of the first goal in the team's history.

Treino do América, Centro Britânico SP, 1915, From the collection of: The Football Museum
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América F. C training at Andaraí neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro, 1915.

Arthur Friedenreich e Fausto, O Maravilha Negra (1930) by Acervo Jornal do ComercioThe Football Museum

El Tigre, the first star

The first Brazilian player to be called a "star" was Arthur Friedenreich. Grandson of Germans, mulato (African-Brazilian), son of a schoolteacher and an employee of the Secretary of Roads and Public Work. He was the protagonist of the winner Brazilian caimpaign at the South-American championship of 1919. Top scorer of the competition, the striker received the nickname "El Tigre" from the Uruguayan journalists.

Replica of the jersey used by the Brazilian national team (1930) by Museu do FutebolThe Football Museum


Football became a professional sport in 1933, when the president Getúlio Vargas set the directives of the national sport and allowed the professional practice of players. This had established a new era in Brazilian football, which had already conquered the urban crowd, living in big cities. During the 1930s and 1940s, the radio was a major player to advertise the main clubs all over Brazil, creating new sport idols, making championships and highlighting the National Team. What would come next is a history full of victories and conquests.

Seleção brasileira em 1934 (1934) by Acervo Iconographia Cia da Memória Direitos ReservadosThe Football Museum

The love of football as a passionate contest withdraw the focus of its transformative role. But the fact is that football has been an effective (and affective) between the elite that brought it in the biggest colonial empire of the planet, the very civilized England, and the people of Brazil, which, during the late 19th century, was made of ex-slaves. To join white and black people, a lordly elite and a humble people, was its first lesson. The football had shown that performance is more important than family name and skin color. Is was the first instrument of a truly universal and modern communication tool between all sectors of Brazilian society. It has being teaching to assemble and disassemble Brazil by means of multiple choices and citizenships.

- Roberto DaMatta, anthropologist.

Imagem da Sala Origens (2012) by Luciano Mattos BogadoThe Football Museum

This exhibition is based on the Origins Room of the Main Exhibition of the Football Museum.

The videos are part ot the Origins video, produced by Preto e Branco stidium, directed by Luiz de Franco Neto, edition by Orlando Malacarne Neto, narration by Milton Gonçalves, soundtrack by Naná Vasconcelos and text by Leonel Kaz.

Credits: Story

Exhibition O Jogo e o Povo

Original version - 2013

Curatorship | Content Team from Football Museum
Coordination | Pedro Sant'Anna
Texts | Daniela Alfonsi, Lucas Donato e Felipe Santos
Layout | Pedro Sant'Anna e Lucas Donato
Video and Image edition | Bruna Gottardo e Hugo Takeyama

Reviewed version - 2018

Coordenation | Camila Aderaldo
Adaptation, google edition and translation | Ana Letícia de Fiori

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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