In 1926, the Italian futurist Marinetti visits Brazil and takes the opportunity to visit a slum in Rio de Janeiro. The same had already been done by European modernists such as Blaise Cendrars and Le Corbusier. Were they influenced by Tarsila's painting Morro da favela (1924)? The painter’s paintings capture the freshness of the search for “Brazilian things” – the palm tree, the huts, the animals, the banana tree, the train station, the papaya tree, the church – the colors of childhood and the legitimate manifestations of popular culture.
Like the suburbs, the slum is still today a “breeding ground for superstars”, according to an expression coined by anthropologist Simoni Guedes in her fieldwork. From there, idols of the Brazilian National Football Team emerged, such as Adriano “The Emperor”, who remained living in his home community slum, Vila Cruzeiro, either at the height of his fame or after his career was over. Like Adriano, football player Katia Cilene, gold medalist at the 2007 Pan American Games for the national team, and Ludmila da Silva, who played at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in Paris, come from communities and remained linked to their places of origin.
In the midst of the dramatic and perverse reality of violence, discrimination and exclusion, slums are overpopulated spaces – it is estimated that they have more than 50 million inhabitants in Brazil – where people live in conditions that are often inhumane, but still find in the open squares of football, a socializing community environment for leisure, recreation and competition. In other words, in the midst of the high density of land occupation, characteristic of slums – almost entirely devoid of squares and parks – the rare public spaces that open up are, almost always, football fields.
Which denotes the great importance of these places for the communities in question.
Photograph: Leonardo Finotti |series.
Leonardo Finotti’s photographs explore the contemporary dimension of the precariousness of life in the favelas and the urban densification in the peripheral areas of São Paulo. The resilience of football practice in these locations is remarkable.
Video clip País do Futebol (2014), by MC Guimê, in Jardim Fontális, north of São Paulo. Participation: Emicida. Duration: 4min26s
Video: MC Guimê – País do Futebol – Part. Emicida | Direction: Alex Miranda & Fred Ouro Preto; General Coordination: Finson Gallar; Management: Hugo Alencar | in Geração Brasil – Nacional (Som Livre)
Editing of the film Campo de Jogo (2015), by Eryk Rocha, showing the preparation for a match in the annual favela championship, in the Sampaio neighborhood, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Duration: 6min46s
Video: Eryk Rocha | Aruac Filmes, Filmegraph, Mutuca Filmes
Editing: Mira Filmes