How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil’s soccer world
In August of this year, the World Cup was in Russia. No one saw it coming. As the tournament was creeping into its final stages, the Brazilian government was preparing for a new soccer season and a national championship, a game that was expected to serve as a preview for the summer and fall World Cup games in 2018.
Everything seemed to go off without a hitch, with the opening match ending with the national team defeating a team from Cuba on August 26. Fans, however, were upset. Not only was the outcome of the game not as expected, but the result prompted anger and accusations that corruption and favoritism were afoot in Brazil’s sports and financial institutions.
Days later, the players and coaches were summoned to a meeting with the head of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF), then-President Lula da Silva. It was just hours after the match, and all the players and coaches were questioned about the game. What followed was a meeting of the executive committee of the CBF, the government body responsible for managing the soccer federation. In it, Lula da Silva announced that the president of the national team and the coaches were to be “dismissed,” and that he was to appoint a new committee to determine the roster of the national team.
Two days later, another call went out to the president of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, José Carlos Peres. It was his turn to make the announcement.
“I hereby inform you that the president of the team has been dismissed,” he said. “It is with him that responsibility is assigned for the next year.” The players were informed of the dismissal and were given 48 hours to report to camp in their hometowns. The players were also informed that they were not in any form of trouble and would not face any sanctions.
After waiting the rest of the day for the players to return to their hometowns, Peres convened a meeting between his advisers and Lula da Silva. “It would seem that the president thinks there is something to hide,” said an aide to Peres.
The entire issue had been kicked off by a meeting of the