Brazil’s victory in the 1994 World Cup is the latest chapter in an extensive history of the world’s most popular game in South America. In this engaging account, Tony Mason reviews the place of football in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
Mason opens with soccer’s rise at the turn of the century amid the exploding urbanization of Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo. He demonstrates that, from its beginnings, the game had wide popular appeal and examines the role of British commercial and military interests as well as that of newcomers from Italy, Spain and Portugal.
From the moment when Uruguay won the Olympic football tournament in 1924 to Argentina’s bizarre appearance in the World Cup final of 1990, international success on the pitch brought with it prestige and influence abroad. At home, Mason shows how dictators used football to ensure political passivity. He concludes by asking if the attention focused on football in Latin America today is exaggerated or whether the game truly is the “passion of the people.”