How long does the goalkeeper take to initiate the defensive movement after noticing the shot aimed at the goal?


In sports, this is the reaction time. A basic foundation for goalkeepers, it’s what makes the difference between glory or regret. Between the reaction time and reaching (or not) the ball, the impossible jumps that become eternal in the memory of every football fan.


In 2021, it will be 150 years since the invention of the goalkeeper, which only appeared years after the game itself. The Football Museum invited a team of collaborators to organize an exhibition in honor of the Number 1 Jersey, proposing an immersion in the history of the main defensive role.


What do we learn by seeing and hearing about the position?


One goalkeeper in particular was called to organize the tactical and symbolic form of the project. Moacyr Barbosa (1921-2000) illuminates the center of the experience and teaches us what it is to be a star and to be a black person in Brazil. 


His career tells us about how racism structures our society, and it will allow us to reflect on how we should act today to change this structure. Glorifying Barbosa is speaking of technique, joy and a Brazilian-fashioned football which charmed the world thanks to the prominence of black men.


Who does the defeat narrative benefit? How long does it take to a country to gather its strength and rewrite history from other points of view?


The reaction time is right now.

Curatorial Team




The anti-racist cause comprises the concerns of the Football Museum since its foundation, but, in light of the events that marked the country and the world in 2020, as George Floyd’s death in the United States and Adalberto de Freitas’ in Brazil, it has become central and urgent.


Last year, we started fostering the reflection and the debate around diversity in the Museum itself in order to, in 2021, carry out actions and share narratives, characters, images and anti-racist concepts with the public.

The Reaction Time exhibition is one of the results of this work. Dedicated to remember the 150 years of the invention of the goalie position, it selected Moacyr Barbosa’s career to receive the homage. This is an intentional selection.

Although Barbosa has been one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, he was for decades unfairly judged the responsible for Brazil’s defeat in Maracanã, in the 1950 World Cup. With the aid of Tereza Borba’s memoirs, the exhibition problematizes the narrative construed at the time, and their consequences to the history of football from the particularities of the goalkeeper position, Barbosa’s career itself as well as the denouncement of racism that structures Brazilian football and society.

Even the most competent goalkeepers experience the challenges imposed by the role (and by top scorers). That’s the game. However, living on a daily basis under racial and prejudice and discrimination leaves deep marks on people, culture and sports. That’s the anti-game.


This is why the action must be collective and comprehensive, just as it is happening now at the Football Museum.

The Football Museum Team


I’ve always heard from my parents that everybody makes mistakes, but I had to be extra careful, as one single mistake from me could be the most powerful and lethal weapon in my opponent’s hands. 

For years, I noticed that, in any championship, I already started losing by a disproportional score, being thrashed, robbed under the fans’ plain sight and shut up at the press conference, as the microphone was closed.


Barbosa was a football and a life goalkeeper. During 79 years he palmed away offenses, kicked away the contempt and restlessly assembled barrier walls against discrimination, where his serenity sounded like a taunt to his opponents. There were many titles, but in 1950, that brilliant goalkeeper received forever the heaviest trophy in his career: injustice.


Today, the mic is open and the hope is that the game of life is played in all its fairness. Our reaction time is right now.


Thiago Oliveira, host of the Esporte Espetacular São Paulo show by Rede Globo.