Branding a football player as a symbol of some sorts is perhaps as an overdone and exaggerated trait as the football fans in derby matches. After every good game players have, every move they make, even every comment they utter are followed by tens of labels; “legend”, “golden boy”, “judas”, along with thousands of insulting terms mixed with the players’ respective names. If such are the case, then perhaps Dr. Socrates doesn’t need another name to symbolize; he is Socrates, a symbol of democracy in Brazil, similar to how his Greek counterpart is regarded among many historians.
To Socrates, the 15-year career he amassed means nothing to the democratic movement he led during his time in Corinthians. The Corinthians’ Democracy movement, or Democracia Corinthiana, was led by Socrates and his group of fellow footballers to introduce a democratic way of managing the club; they would often spend their nights, over bottles of alcohol and packet of cigarettes, discussing and voting subjects ranging from how the club should be managed to whether someone should go to the bathroom to take a piss. The movement served as a pressure to the military government to bring back direct presidential elections to Brazil, and as an encouraging message to the Brazilian people that their time of constraints by dictatorship is going to lift.
Banner of Corinthians Democracia.
The red splatter represents blood spilt to promote democracy
Image from: botecodosboleiros.com.br
Such drastic actions would surely have been stopped by the military government in any different setting; the fact that it was through football, the one setting that such actions could possibly be filtered down from an act of anarchy, undoubtedly played a big part in keeping the Corinthians’ Democracy movement going. Dr. Socrates himself showed to the world that, in situations as extreme as a military dictatorship, football can be served as a window to voice their opinion of justice; to him, that was the purpose of his football, as evident in his quote after Corinthians won the state championship in 1982:
“That was the greatest team I ever played in because it was more than sport. My political victories are more important than my victories as a professional player. A match finishes in 90 minutes, but life goes on.”
Purely from a professional footballer’s standards nowadays, Socrates would be labeled by many as a “wasted talent”, often indulging on cigarettes and alcohol throughout his entire career. Socrates himself admitted, in recalling his time in Florence, Italy, that he considered football second to his life, as a person and a thinker. What set him miles apart from such label, however, was his pursuit to bring democracy to Brazil in times of military dictatorship. He wasn’t what we would call a dedicated footballer; rather, he was a philosopher and a rebel, who used football as a tool to amplify his voice of opinion.
Feature Image from : Football Rebels, Al Jazeera
Exibição do documentário “Ser Campeão É Detalhe”