Political uses of Brazilian football

Image: Denniz Futalan


Bolsonaro and his political group managed to establish efficient relationships to instrumentalize institutions, managers and athletes linked to football

Football is a powerful market, a valuable product and its seduction capacity can be politically exploited. However, framing it only in this way obscures the struggles emulated by the game, the causes incorporated in various clubs and fan groups, in addition to ignoring the role of the working class and popular sectors in the founding of clubs, professionalization and consolidation of the sport. However, it would be naive to ignore the daily accentuated commodification and often unpopular political uses.

In this sense, the text deals with the interactions between Jair Bolsonaro, his political group and the directors of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras and Clube de Regatas Flamengo for the use of these entities. Nothing here is revelation; but, following the publication of Juca Kfouri's article about Crefisa's partnership with the INSS,[I] A picture of the use of elements of popular culture, such as football, to connect Bolsonaro leaders and their base is evident.

2018 Elections

One of Jair Bolsonaro's mentions of football was the promise to end sponsorships from Caixa Econômica Federal[ii] to football clubs and links with the sport were demonstrated, in terms of electoral sympathy: in goal celebrations, as Diego Souza did (at the time at São Paulo FC); in social media posts by players like Lucas Moura, Alexandre Pato, Neymar and others; and in interviews such as coach Luiz Felipe Scolari – who had already praised Augusto Pinochet – and athlete Felipe Melo. Athletico Paranaense, whose leader Mario Celso Petraglia was a well-known supporter, ordered athletes to wear the Bolsonarista campaign shirt, resulting in a R$70 fine for the club.

Until then, the extent of the link between Jair Bolsonaro and the top echelon of Brazilian football was unknown, beyond these nods. The speech, however, following a line consistent with the neoliberal prescription of its “superminister” Paulo Guedes, was the separation between the State, as a public thing, and the football entities that are private, despite the majority being associative and theoretically non-profit. .

Shortly after the elections, Jair Bolsonaro was on the field at the awards ceremony and lifted the 2018 Brazilian champion cup won by Palmeiras. It was notable that a president who had not yet been sworn in received such an honor. There were those who said that the invitation came from the CBF, but the president of Palmeiras, Mauricio Galiotte, claimed to have invited him. He said: “We invited the president-elect, a great Palmeiras native who was very moved. He went around with the players. It was a very happy day for all of us. We have Palmeiras back in their rightful place.”

Leila Pereira (owner of the sponsor Crefisa) published a photo with Jair Bolsonaro with the caption: “Look who is here. Jair Bolsonaro is the first President to watch the Verdão game at Allianz Parque. It was an honor to place our ten-time champion sash on our President Jair Bolsonaro.” On that occasion, Jair Bolsonaro met supporters on the field and in the locker room, such as Felipe Melo and Luiz Felipe Scolari, who saluted him. Reinforcing the origin of the invitation, Jair Bolsonaro said: “This is a unique party for me. I thank the management [of Palmeiras] for the invitation. They say that in a democracy, rotation is welcome. In football, only at the steakhouse.” [iii]

The CBF in the period

In 2019, Rogério Caboclo assumed the presidency of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). One of the president's tasks was to restore the “ball bench” after the first national election without corporate donations, making indirect financing through sponsors unfeasible – campaign donations by clubs and federations had already been prohibited. The strategies already tested for this purpose were: offering positions, benefiting former deputy Walter Feldman, parliamentary advisors, then deputy Marcelo Aro (currently affiliated with Progressistas – PP) and others; offered delegation leadership in international friendlies and competitions; and offered gifts (signed official shirts, tickets, invitations to boxes and others).

The new composition included, among others, Fabio Mitidieri (PSD), president of the Sports Committee in the Chamber (2019-2020); former goalkeeper Danrlei Hinterholz (PSD); former referee Evandro Rogério Roman (PSD); Darcísio Perondi (MDB), brother of the former president of the Gaucho Federation; the former president of Vitória EC, José Rocha (PL); and the former president of Sport Recife, Luciano Bivar – presided over the PSL (Bolsonaro's former party) and presides over União Brasil (PSL/Democrats merger).

Bolsonaro Government (2019-2022)

In fact, Caixa's sponsorships were suspended; MP nº 984/2020, known as MP do Mandante or MP do Flamengo, was presented; the government supported Law No. 14.193/2021, authored by senator Rodrigo Pacheco, which established the Sociedade Anônima de Futebol (SAF), regulating a new type of club-company. The Mandant's MP expired without being voted on, but the Federal Executive sent Bill No. 2336/2021 which, slightly changing the MP, resulted in Law 14.205/2021 or the Mandant's Law,[iv] As for the SAF, the president sanctioned the Law, vetoing only specific taxation mechanisms that, in theory, contradicted the Fiscal Responsibility Law.

Interactions between government and high-ranking football entities

Jair Bolsonaro and Rogério Caboclo demonstrated closeness. At the 2019 Copa América, Jair Bolsonaro was in CBF boxes and on the field during the awarding of athletes and celebration of the title won by the Seleção, repeating what he did for Palmeiras' title. In 2021, the government assisted the CBF in transferring the Copa América to Brazil, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, Jair Bolsonaro was upset by the threat of a boycott by the team's main players at the Copa América and, according to reports at the time, he obtained from Rogério Caboclo a promise to replace coach Tite with Renato Gaúcho, who demonstrated support for Bolsonarism. Caboclo fell earlier, accused of harassment. The behind-the-scenes actions of the Jair Bolsonaro government's national football secretary, Ronaldo Lima, did not reverse the situation at the CBF.

However, the issue is not merely symbolic. There are relationships materialized in political decisions. The Mandante's MP expired due to disagreements from members of the “ball bench”, football clubs and the dissatisfaction of the Globo Group, the main holder of football broadcasting rights. In a way, in addition to hurting the aforementioned interests, the proposal emerged without broader negotiations with decisive players in football.

The adjustments made to the Mandant Law offered legal security to Globo and pleased the clubs on two points: (1) financially it was rational not to pick a fight with the Globo Group for most clubs and for the CBF – which still organizes the main national competitions; (2) politically, it was interesting to keep the Athletes' Union in good working conditions. Athletes' unions in Brazil, in general, are not very combative, without a history of major mobilizations against CBF, federations and clubs and are characterized by low leadership turnover and low athlete support. Therefore, the experience of the CBF and the clubs guides the continuation of the current union structure, providing predictability in labor relations. Union unity limits the creation of new unions in the category on the same territorial basis. With the MP, these athletes' unions would have difficulty maintaining themselves, as one of the unions' main sources of income is the fee for managing image rights. The law maintained payment via the union and guaranteed this administration fee.

While the edges remained during the MP, the impasse was used by Flamengo, without a contract in force in the 2020 Carioca Championship, to broadcast and negotiate their games individually, regardless of the consent of their opponents. In reaction, the Globo Group terminated the contract with all clubs in the competition. The quick action of Rio's red-black reinforced the impression that Jair Bolsonaro's meetings with Rodolfo Landim, Flamengo president, before the publication of the MP were not a coincidence. Hence the nickname “MP do Flamengo”. Another interested party in the MP was Athletico Paranaense, which also broadcast games on its own YouTube channel and was already without a full contract with Grupo Globo at the time.

In the case of Landim, the rapprochement with Bolsonaro was not limited to the MP: Bolsonaro attended Flamengo games and Landim was considered as Bolsonaro's vice-president for the 2022 campaign. Given the repercussions and pressure suffered, the idea was abandoned, but Landim was appointed by the Bolsonaro government to the presidency of the Petrobras board of directors. This proximity is not trivial. Bolsonaro, who claimed to be from Palmeiras and a supporter of Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro, became closer to Flamengo throughout his term, culminating in his presence in red and black celebrations of the 2022 titles (Copa do Brasil and Libertadores), in the middle of the electoral period, as he did with his Palmeiras (2018) and with the Seleção (2019).

The neoliberalizing effort is not synonymous with removing football issues from the agenda, just as neoliberal theories do not advocate the laissez-faire. However, there are correlations that allow us to question the indirect participation of Jair Bolsonaro's government in football, including with economic effects. In the following section, I mention the Bolsonaro family's relations with Banco de Brasília S/A (BRB), Flamengo's master sponsor and whose main shareholder is the Government of the Federal District, headed by Bolsonaro ally Ibaneis Rocha; I also highlight some aspects of the partnership that would be difficult to accept based on strictly market rules.

BRB, Bolsonaro family and the controversies in the BRBFla Nation project

Jair Bolsonaro and Ibaneis Rocha, despite clashes during the Covid-19 pandemic, are allies and shared a platform in the 2018 and 2022 elections. Right at the beginning of their mandates in 2019, Bolsonaro responded to a demand from Ibaneis and signed an adjustment of 8 % for the security forces of the Federal District, even defending an austere economic policy without adjustments for other federal employees. The raids that arose during the pandemic, when Jair Bolsonaro's popularity plummeted, were overcome in 2021 when the president released resources from the secret budget indicated by Ibaneis Rocha for the purchase of vehicles and machinery for the Federal District (DF) and the state from the family of the governor of DF, Piauí.[v]

Sports journalist Mauro Cezar Pereira, an admitted Flamengo fan, denounced in 2020 that the agreement with BRB was signed in a scenario of proximity between Bolsonaro and Landim, Bolsonaro and Ibaneis (the DF holds the majority of BRB shares) and Ibaneis and Flamengo, highlighting that the governor is a flamenco fan, frequented the stadium and some say he dreams of presiding over the red-black team. The partnership with the Gávea club began the previous year (2019) with sponsorship of Flamengo Basketball.

The bank also sponsors the two teams that represent the Federal District in the Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB), Cerrado and Brasília. This situation raised questions, since Brasília was Flamengo's main rival in the 2010s, before Franca Basquete's resumption of protagonism. Ibaneis Rocha responded by stating that 60% of the population of Brasilia supports Flamengo. When addressing the issue, Mauro Cézar questioned: “Close to both [Bolsonaro and Ibaneis], Flamengo gains new sponsorship, more in politics than in marketing or political marketing”.[vi]

It could be argued that, as Ibaneis is a Flamenguist, the use of the BRB could be his exclusive decision. However, in addition to the at least dubious relations between the BRB and the Bolsonaro family, it is necessary to mention the president of the BRB appointed by Ibaneis Rocha: Paulo Henrique Costa. Paulo Henrique Costa's mission was to expand the BRB brand beyond Brasília (since the bank has branches in other locations), being one of those considered by the federal government to replace the president of Banco do Brasil André Brandão, when he placed the position available in 2021.[vii] PH, as the president of the BRB is known, saw his nomination lose momentum when the news broke of the BRB loan of R$3,1 million for Flávio Bolsonaro to acquire a R$6 million mansion in Brasília. The loan occurred at rates between 3,65 and 4,85 per year.[viii] PH remains president of BRB to this day.

The partnership with Flamengo draws attention because it is not just the master sponsorship of the red and black shirt. Part of the promise of big gains, especially for Flamengo, comes from the creation of the Nação BRBFla digital platform, in which Flamengo and BRB would have 50% of the shares each. Until June of this year, total losses with the platform resulted in losses of R$455 million for BRB. There are also 25,9% of loans that are more than 90 days late and 19,2% are between 15 and 90 days late, potentially causing an additional R$295 million in losses with loans and credit cards on the platform. Flamengo did not provide financial compensation and receives the amounts agreed for the sponsorship (the last renewal yielded R$22,5 million for six months only).

According to Rodrigo Mattos,[ix] The idea is for the parties to sign a more lasting partnership, after this six-month contract, defining the exact model of the digital bank and the entry or not of a minority partner. The expectation was that the digital platform would yield around R$1 billion when the IPO (initial public offering of shares) took place, divided into equal parts. However, this expectation vaunted by BRB and Flamengo was questioned by bank shareholders who complained about the lack of transparency without the publication of the Financial Statement of Income (DRE).[X] Given this scenario, the bank is looking for partners interested in acquiring part of the platform's credit portfolio to reduce the losses already disclosed. The problems don't stop there: the bank lost half of its market value (from R$ 9,3 to 4,7 billion) between 2021 and 2023 and is in the crosshairs of the Central Bank for improper balance sheet entries.

The alleged greater exposure and popularity of the BRB brand did not result in financial gains during the period and the same management that closed the agreements with Flamengo is in check due to accounting problems.[xi] Flamengo, in turn, says it has a proposal of R$85 million per year from Pixbet (betting sector) to take on the master sponsorship in place of BRB (whose last contract was equivalent to R$45 million per year); but, even so, Pixbet would be plan B. The priority is to maintain BRB as a master sponsor due to the expectation of gains with the Nação BRBFLA digital platform and an adjustment in the renewal of sponsorship.[xii] Let's see how trading will go after the negative numbers for both the digital platform and BRB as a whole.

Crefisa and the profitable contract signed by the Bolsonaro government using the INSS

It must be fair, Crefisa signed a sponsorship contract with Palmeiras long before Jair Bolsonaro was considered presidential candidate; It is also necessary to admit that the financial institution and Faculdade das Américas (FAM), owned by the same owners, became better known after the sponsorship – as expected. The two companies are part of the group owned by the couple José Roberto Lamacchia and Leila Pereira, elected board members of the Alviverde club in 2017.

The relationship began with an agreement worth R$23 million per year, signed in November 2014 to be effective from 2015 and, from the beginning, Crefisa hired several athletes whose amount paid was (or will be) returned after the interest-free sale or monetary correction, in addition to loans to pay debts at the beginning of the partnership (paid by new sponsorship activations or in interest-free cash).

In 2017, José Roberto Lamacchia acknowledged in an interview with Mauro Cézar Pereira that the value of the sponsorship exceeded the market value (sponsorship proposals for the club were around R$17 million when the partnership began). Despite the initial agreement, it is estimated that the partners invested a total of around R$300 million in the first three seasons. [xiii] The new contract, in force until 2024, provides for fixed annual values ​​of R$81 million and variables related to sporting performance, reaching up to R$136 million per year, and the loan of an aircraft from Placar Linhas Aéreas (also owned by the couple) without rent collection.

In terms of results, FAM multiplied the number of students enrolled and Crefisa increased net profit from around R$750 million in 2014 to R$1,1 billion in 2016, but from 2019 to 2021 it fell from R$806 to R$267,1 million. In addition to the popularization of brands through sponsorship, it is necessary to consider contextual elements: FAM included the expansion of permitted courses and the relaxation of rules in Distance Learning (EaD) and blended learning modalities; Crefisa benefited from the credit strategy for public servants, retirees and negative pensioners with no margin for payroll, in addition to the increase in the basic interest rate (mainly between 2015 and the beginning of 2016) in the context of the country's crisis and greater family debt . Despite the drop in profits during the pandemic years (where the crisis could suggest a greater search for credit in the context of a new increase in interest rates), the financial company's assets continued to increase.

I reiterate: the Crefisa-Palmeiras relationship precedes the consolidation of Bolsonarism. The success of this partnership and its sporting results are not due to Jair Bolsonaro; On the contrary, this success was attractive: “In football, [rodízio] only at the steakhouse”, therefore, a possible alviverde hegemony would not be a problem, nor would the so-called “Spanishization of Brazilian football” with Palmeiras and Flamengo replicating Real Madrid's dominance. and Barcelona, ​​this is the coherence of the approach with Flamengo. However, there are a series of questions about this partnership that defied market laws, despite being a private company.

José Roberto Lamacchia, according to This IS Money,[xiv] responded to a fraud lawsuit: the businessman is accused of forging an assembly in 2004 to change the CEBRASP (Centro Brasileiro dos Servidores Públicos de São Paulo) from a non-profit class association to the company CEBRASP Ensino Ltda. The detail is that José Roberto Lamacchia had been proclaimed lifetime president of CEBRASP and the assembly, in addition to the conversion, transferred 95% of the capital to José Roberto Lamacchia and 5% to his company Crefipar. This entire process was questioned in court by the only member whose personal data was considered valid at the meeting.

The case raises a series of questions about the companies sponsoring Palmeiras: in 2010, CEBRASP Ensino owned 90% of the capital of Sociedade Educacional das Américas, which maintains FAM; the body had R$41,4 million in investments in Crefisa (the corrected value until 2016 would be equivalent to R$518,9 million). It is stated in the records that the businessman, during the process, had invaded the home of the associate who filed the case.

In 2018, journalist Juca Kfouri[xv] reported the result of Registration 2018.0000434028 Ruling: the Court of Justice of the State of São Paulo annulled the aforementioned meeting and ordered the liquidation of the company CEBRASP Ensino Ltda, obliging the businessman and his Crefipar to return the appropriate resources.

In addition to this process, Leila Pereira and José Roberto Lamacchia were included in the pandora papers as owners of offshore Koba Investors Limited, created in the Virgin Islands in 2008.[xvi] The use of offshore in Fiscal Paradises is an alternative for sending money abroad avoiding paying taxes in Brazil, bringing together on the same list big businessmen, former minister Paulo Guedes and people investigated for financing the shooting of fake news. The origin of the Lamacchia family's wealth reveals yet another belonging to sectors that largely supported Jair Bolsonaro: the ruralists. José Roberto Lamacchia's father built his wealth in Birigui, in the interior of São Paulo, through coffee farming and the banking sector. In addition to the creation of Crefisa in the 1960s by José Roberto Lamacchia, his brothers continued in the agricultural sector and own several farms in Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.

José Roberto Lamacchia, Leila Pereira and Crefipar were also denounced by the Financial Activities Control Council (COAF), according to the Paulinho's Blog,[xvii] for a possible crime of money laundering, concealment of assets and tax evasion, according to Financial Intelligence Report No. 58611. The complaint gave rise to Police Inquiry 2131676-78-2021.180404 which investigates “cash withdrawal operations of significant amounts and in a fractional manner, without apparent cause, including signs of fraud in the system, a profile that would make it difficult to identify the real destination of the resources and other operations considered atypical”. Among the transfers investigated are the company Tuddo Comunicação, owned by Olivério Júnior, advisor to Leila Pereira, the Grêmio Recreativo e Cultural Escola de Samba Mancha Verde[xviii] and Guilherme Augusto Sanches Ribeiro's campaign in 2018.

It is worth remembering that COAF was at the center of controversies and transfers: after the identification of atypical bank transfers by Flávio Bolsonaro discovered in 2018, the body was transferred in January 2019 to the Ministry of Justice, whose minister was Sérgio Moro; months later, the body was transferred to the Ministry of Economy, led by Paulo Guedes; and, finally, COAF passed to the Central Bank, in 2021, with the approval of the BC's autonomy. According to Sérgio Moro, the transfer of COAF aimed to expand government control over the body, among others, to protect the president's children from investigations into the practice of rachadinha.[xx] Coincidence or normal course of the investigation, the complaint about Crefipar and its owners was made by the agency to the police only in 2021.

About campaign financing. Guilherme Ribeiro had already been a candidate for the Chamber of Deputies in 2014 for Progressistas (PP) and the transfer of the investigated resource was to the 2018 campaign trying to be elected federal deputy for PRB/Republicanos, when he was once again presented as “the Maluf candidate ”. Guilherme Ribeiro was social director and administrative director of Palmeiras; His father, Jessé Ribeiro, was Paulo Maluf's advisor and friend for decades and held the club's vice-presidency under Paulo Nobre and Maurício Galiotte. Despite not having been elected on both occasions, he was appointed by the government of Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency of the National Supply Company (CONAB) in 2021 – from where he was dismissed by the Lula government in March 2023. He was part of the Agriculture and Supply to governor Tarcísio Freitas' transition team in São Paulo.

This campaign was not the only one, Lamacchia donated R$200 to Bruno Covas' re-election campaign.[xx] Furthermore, support for Bolsonaro was not limited to the 2018 title, in August 2022, Leila Pereira invited the President of the Republic to watch the game between Palmeiras and Goiás, for the Brazilian Championship, with the right to the official photo and the club's new shirt as a gift.[xxx] This symbolic meeting reiterates journalists' articles about the use of Palmeiras by Bolsonarism.[xxiii]

A common fact between the two legal cases involving the couple and the articles about the use of Palmeiras by Bolsonarism was the attempt to take legal action to overturn the news. Even though the lawsuits were not successful, the low impact of the cases in the main media companies is impressive. I don't know if the advertising funds paid by the couple's companies explain the silence or if it's just the carelessness of many journalists.

One of the dissenting voices is Juca Kfouri, who was accused of being driven by “anti-palestrian invectives”[xxiii] by Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo – economist and former president of Palmeiras with excellent contact between progressive groups and people. Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo reacted to Juca Kfouri's complaint about the silent Crefisa contract signed by the Bolsonaro government to make payments to the National Social Security Institute and offer payroll loans[xxv].

Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo was happy in contextualizing financial cycles and their scandals, he wasted his erudition in citing recognized authors, but he was wrong to minimize the accusations as “football troubles” and “anti-palestrian unrest [that] arises from a healthy rivalry”. Regarding Crefisa, he restricted himself to saying that there are dozens of companies qualified to carry out payroll loans. After that, he described the context of the Palmeiras-Parmalat partnership to refute Juca Kfouri's accusation of money laundering from the Italian company, but did not return to the complaints about Crefisa's silent accreditation in the Bolsonaro government to make retirement, pension and aid payments, such as the Continuous Payment Benefit (BPC) and sickness benefit, paid by the INSS. An important addendum: to date, the partnership has not been reviewed by the Lula government.

Firstly, it is surprising that Crefisa becomes a paying institution given the small number of agencies and little capillarity. Previously, banks were accredited and most offered the possibility of crediting the beneficiary's current account in another bank on the first payment. By not discussing this, Luiz Gonzaga Belluzo ignores strange situations such as the following: a pensioner from Rio de Janeiro who lives in Pavuna and needs to go to the Crefisa branch in Méier (more than 17km away with a journey of around 50 minutes in conditions good traffic on public transport). You were not offered or advised to transfer the payment to a current account, as most banks do. Research the number of company branches and see if their designation respects service to policyholders, the majority of whom are elderly and some have special needs.

Secondly, the practices that Juca Kfouri calls fraudulent, I don't know if they can be applied to all financial institutions registered for payroll loans. Therefore, they should be debated. Just enter the "Reclame Aqui" to see the festival of horrors: a pensioner says that she was advised at the Crefisa branch on Ilha do Governador to anticipate the benefit as she was at the branch on 23/08 and would receive it on 01/09. The suggestion was not accompanied by guidance on interest rates. Upon accessing the application, she identified two loans in her name, signed via tablet without the employee explaining what she was authorizing.

Another case was told to me by a lawyer: her client went to an agency in the interior of the State of São Paulo to receive his pension, he heard that he could not receive it without signing a payroll loan. The client accessed the lawyer who called the police. The same lawyer learned that a similar case occurred in a neighboring city. The professional noticed that the cases started in 2020 and, in the region where she works, the targeting of Crefisa is greater in small municipalities. In addition, Procon of Tocantins fined Crefisa agencies in Araguaína and Palmas for charging undue amounts to INSS users, such as fees for withdrawals, and for making pension/retirement withdrawals conditional on the issuance of prepaid cards. In April this year, the Civil Police of Pará opened an investigation against the Crefisa branch in Tucuruí for crimes of embezzlement and against financial order.

Thirdly, there are also problems in the labor sphere: the Union of Bank Workers and Finance Workers of São Paulo, Osasco and Region received complaints that Crefisa masks labor relations to prevent its employees from being classified as financiers so as not to pay rights provided for in the Collective Agreement of the category. The practice would consist of hiring people from other companies in the group. There are also reports of workers who do not enjoy their weekly rest and who frequently perform overtime work without pay.[xxiv]

Now, it would be a case of asking Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo if he would denounce these practices that violate labor rights, question the lack of publicity of the agreement, the accusations of fraud and the lack of supervision by public bodies due to the fact that this is a public with an important The portion made up of people with little education also fall under “anti-palestrian invective” or whether they should be minimized because there are other companies accredited for payroll loans or forgotten due to the contextual notes of the current financial cycle.

It should be noted that before this agreement, Crefisa was not authorized to offer payroll loans, it made loans with discounts on current accounts, prioritizing employees, retirees and negative pensioners with no available margin (who would not be able to access more payroll credit and would have difficulty accessing credit lines). conventional credit). The accreditation carried out during the Bolsonaro government opened a new market to Crefisa and delivered a large vulnerable clientele on a platter (due to age, lack of education, need or dependence on not so well-intentioned third parties).

Therefore, it is not about saying that Palmeiras' success is because of Jair Bolsonaro's government, but Palmeiras was used as a diffuser of Jair Bolsonaro by athletes, coaches, managers and sponsors and, under the Bolsonaro government, the partner that financed the club with values ​​higher than those practiced in the market was awarded an important contract with the government.

In conclusion

On the occasion of Palmeiras' Brazilian title, Jair Bolsonaro expressed his vision about football: “Football is much more than supporting a team, it is a state of mind completely identified with Brazilians”[xxv]. Jair Bolsonaro's post is correct, it captures a dimension misunderstood by many progressive intellectuals and politicians and is illustrative of how he mobilized elements of popular culture to expand his connections with the electoral base.

The nods and measures in favor of football (also the country music genre) in contrast, for example, with the constant criticism of carnival, despite this also being a popular manifestation, demonstrate a project clearly aware of its electoral base: a public conservative, connected with agribusiness, geographically internalized and conservative.

The former president's statement also clarifies what is seen by many of his critics as proselytism: wearing shirts from different teams is, in fact, staging what he calls a “[…] state of mind totally identified with Brazilians”, which emulated this connection with the base along with other imagery constructions (Bic pen, simple breakfast, bread with condensed milk, trips to markets, etc.). Symbolic practices were accompanied by political decisions and financial support (BRB-Flamengo; Crefisa-INSS contract) to those who were willing to offer a useful instrument for popularizing Bolsonarism – who knows what we would have seen in the Brazilian team if Rogério Caboclo hadn't had been revoked by the CBF.

The expected reactions to the lines that make up this text are more or less in line with what Belluzzo responded to Kfouri. Due to the difference in repercussion and importance, it is likely that my text will receive less elaborate and erudite responses that will probably follow the line of remembering the greatness of the history of Palmeiras and Flamengo and the financial power of both, which far exceeds the money paid by the your sponsors; some will rescue the clubs' effectively popular and progressive pages. In short, they will provide a very broad context to reduce the importance of the present facts, but that is not the debate. The intention is not to question the greatness of history or the coherence of the Flamengo and Palmeiras club identities.

This text does not reduce clubs to their leaders' adherence to Bolsonarism nor does it question their financial capacity to survive without sponsorship. The exercise is the opposite: it is to demonstrate how Jair Bolsonaro managed to establish efficient relationships to instrumentalize very powerful institutions such as Palmeiras and Flamengo. These clubs would be the most successful examples of that fundamental element of popular culture, football.

On the one hand, here I warn internal groups to organize themselves and demonstrate, if any, political diversity in the associative club in response to the kidnapping of the symbols and reach of these entities by Bolsonarism, in exchange for indirect advantages to their leaders and/or sponsors . On the other hand, I reiterate that progressive intellectuals and politicians who underestimate the importance of football as a cultural manifestation in people's daily lives and its political potential continue to make a big mistake - let us know of the dismissal of the chief advisor of the Ministry of Racial Equality for posts in the final of Brazil's Cup.

*Jefferson Nascimento He has a doctorate in political science from UFSCar. Book author Ellen Wood: the fight for democracy and the rescue of class (Appris).


[I] See more at https://www.uol.com.br/esporte/futebol/colunas/juca-kfouri/2023/10/31/a-desconhecida-parceria-insscrefisa.htm

[ii] Caixa even sponsored 25 clubs from some division of the 2018 Brazilian Championship. Between 2012 and 2018, it spent around R$663 million on sponsorship of football clubs, with 2017 being the year with the highest amount spent – ​​R$145,8 millions. To give you an idea, the total value allocated by Caixa to sponsorships and advertising in the period was R$5,2 billion (football clubs do not correspond to 15% of the value); in 2014, in which Caixa spent the most, it was R$887,7 million.

[iii] See more at https://ge.globo.com/futebol/times/palmeiras/noticia/bolsonaro-chega-a-arena-do-palmeiras-para-ver-jogo-do-titulo-opositores-protestam-com-cartazes.ghtml

[iv] Rodrigo Maia (at the time, in the Democrats and president of the Chamber), did not put it to a vote, citing the need for debate between the clubs, the same position as deputy Danrlei Hinterholz (PSD), appointed as a member of the “ball bench”. The government presented the Bill, whose payment for the arena or image rights remains, as in the Pelé Law, being made to the unions for transfer to the athletes, unlike the MP. The new feature is the setting of a 72-hour deadline for the transfer to occur. In relation to the MP, the law maintains the principal with 100% of the broadcasting rights; but, unlike the expired measure, the Law is clear in preserving current contracts intact. These adjustments were sufficient for the approval of Law 14.205/2021.

[v] See more at https://www.estadao.com.br/politica/relacao-ibaneis-rocha-ex-governador-df-jair-bolsonaro/

[vi] See more at https://www.uol.com.br/esporte/futebol/colunas/mauro-cezar-pereira/2020/06/19/banco-que-patrocinara-fla-e-de-governo-com-um-politico-rubro-negro-a-frente.htm

[vii] See more at https://extra.globo.com/economia-e-financas/apos-desgaste-presidente-do-banco-do-brasil-coloca-cargo-disposicao-de-bolsonaro-24902130.html

[viii] See more at https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2021/03/compra-de-mansao-por-flavio-dificulta-indicacao-de-executivo-do-banco-de-brasilia-ao-bb.shtml

[ix] See more at https://www.uol.com.br/esporte/futebol/colunas/rodrigo-mattos/2023/07/11/por-que-flamengo-renovou-com-brb-por-r-225-mi-so-por-seis-meses.htm

[X] See more at https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/cidades-df/2023/11/6531030-nacao-brbfla-da-prejuizo-de-rs-455-milhoes-ao-brb.html

[xi] See more at https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/cidades-df/2023/11/6530482-brb-apresenta-deterioracao-dos-indicadores.html

[xii] See more at https://www.uol.com.br/esporte/futebol/colunas/rodrigo-mattos/2023/09/29/flamengo-tem-como-plano-b-uma-oferta-de-patrocinio-de-r-85-mi-por-ano.htm

[xiii] See more at https://www.espn.com.br/blogs/maurocezarpereira/677854_exclusivo-patrocinador-admite-que-paga-ao-palmeiras-mais-do-que-vale-e-diz-que-compensa

[xiv] Confer https://istoedinheiro.com.br/verdades-e-mentiras-sobre-o-caso-lamacchia/

[xv] Confer https://blogdojuca.uol.com.br/2018/06/patrocinadora-do-palmeiras-sofre-grave-derrota-na-justica/

[xvi] See more at https://deolhonosruralistas.com.br/2021/10/20/o-agro-e-offshore-a-face-agraria-dos-citados-nos-pandora-papers/

[xvii] Confer https://blogdopaulinho.com.br/2022/08/12/presidente-do-palmeiras-e-investigada-por-lavagem-de-dinheiro-ocultacao-de-patrimonio-e-sonegacao-de-impostos/

[xviii] It should be noted that the Mancha Verde Samba School has its own corporate name and administration, different from Grêmio Recreativo e Cultural Torcida Mancha Alviverde (known as Mancha Verde organized fans).

[xx] Confer https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/politica/2022/01/4980135-moro-bolsonaro-tirou-coaf-do-ministerio-da-justica-para-proteger-os-filhos.html#:~:text=O%20pr%C3%A9%2Dcandidato%20%C3%A0%20Presid%C3%AAncia,para%20o%20Minist%C3%A9rio%20da%20Economia.

[xx] https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/colunas/painel/2020/10/dono-da-crefisa-doa-r-200-mil-a-campanha-pela-reeleicao-de-bruno-covas-em-sp.shtml

[xxx] See more at https://www.lance.com.br/palmeiras/leila-pereira-recebe-jair-bolsonaro-no-allianz-entorno-do-estadio-do-palmeiras-tem-manifestacoes.html

[xxiii] See more at https://blogdopaulinho.com.br/2023/07/13/justica-nega-novamente-censura-a-materia-que-expoe-utilizacao-do-palmeiras-pelo-bolsonarismo/

[xxiii] See more at https://www.cartacapital.com.br/opiniao/moralismos-futebolisticos/

[xxv] Check reference of note I

[xxiv] Check in https://spbancarios.com.br/03/2022/crefisa-para-o-futebol-milhoes-para-o-trabalhador-fraude-para-nao-pagar-direitos

[xxv] Check reference from note II.

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