Ricardo Kaká

This section by Chris Straka.

Edited and updated by Maria Luisa Frasson-Nori in 2015.

Brazil…is built around Kaká. The 2007 World Player of the Year is the hub of the Brazilian offense.”[1]

In a team of standouts, Ricardo Kaká was the star.  His golden boy status is not without merit, as he was named the Italian Serie A “Footballer of the Year” in 2004 and 2007 and won the golden ball award in the 2009 Confederations cup.  For a complete list of Kaká’s achievements, click here

Kaká is not only known for his stellar on-field play, but also for being very outspoken off the field about his faith.  He has worked with the Billy Graham organization on a TV campaign broadcast in his home country of Brazil, his central message being that he “truly could not imagine [his] life without Christ.”[2] He went on to give God the credit for everything he has accomplished both on and off the soccer field, saying, “If God wasn’t in my life, then my life certainly would not be like this.”[3]

Although not unheard of, a star athlete giving credit to the divine is unusual; most do not choose to publicly speak out about their faith.  French footballer Zinidine Zidane is a Muslim but does not practice his faith,[4] and teammate Franck Ribéry sometimes raises his hands in supplication to Allah before games but has made it clear that his faith is a private matter and not something that should take attention away from the national team.[5]

Though Kaká does not try to take attention away from his team’s football play, he uses Brazil’s success to publicize his personal morals and has been able to reach a wide audience.  The British tabloid The Sun claims that “hundreds of people were freed from demonic possession, hardened criminals turned to Christianity in their thousands, many more were cured of booze and drug addictions, and a former voodoo princess turned to Christ”[6] because of Kaka’s public display of faith. . TIME magazine named Kaká one of the 100 most influential people in 2008; [7] his faith-filled actions may very well have inspired his country men to rethink some of their actions and life decisions.

Kaká’s life as a Christian stands out in Brazilian culture because the country has historically been dominated by the Catholic Church – more than 90% of the population identified as Catholic in 1970. Though Catholicism continues to span the majority of Brazilian society, that statistic dropped to 65% in 2010 and there has been a nearly 20% increase of membership in the Protestant faith (evalangélicos in portuguese). [8] This phenomemon occured with the help of televised religious programs and new-age churches with massive national followings.

Kaká was affiliated with one such church, Igreja Renascer em Cristo (“Rebirth in Christ Church”) that boasted 2,000,000 members and 1,500 locations in and outside of Brazil. [9] He was married in 2005 in the church at the age of 23 to Carol Celico (then 18), who joined Renascer while still in school and later was ordained as a pastor in the megachurch. Both he and Celico were active members of Renascer and are said to have donated an estimated 2 million Brazilian reais (today, about USD $700,000) to the organization. 

In 2010, both Kaká and his wife left Renascer, though they remain publicly Christian. [10] This has been unofficiall attributed to various scandals involving the Renascer leadership. Renascer founders Estevam and Sônia Hernandes are being investigated on charges of money laundering, perjury, libel, exploitation of non-profit status, and tax evasion. [11] They were arrested in January of 2007 for failing to declare over $56,000 in cash brought into the USA. Kaká and his wife separated at the end of 2014 after 9 years of marriage with two children. [12]

Kaká began his soccer career in São Paulo in 2001 and was transferred to A.C. Milan in 2003 following Brazil’s World Cup victory in the Korea/Japan tournament. He played for Milan for 6 years, until he was traded to Real Madrid in 2010 where he stayed for years. After another year of playing in Milan, Kaká is now playing for Orlando City SC as the highest-paid athlete in Major League Soccer history. [13]

 

For an overview of the faith of the players on the Brazilian team, click here.

Also, check out this movie; it is partly in Croatian but has interviews with Kaká in English.

 

Back to Main Page: Brazil!



[1] “Brazil in Good Position – Again” espn.com.

[2] Hugh Southon. “Kaká is saviour to millions,” The Sun, January 17, 2009

[3] Southon, “Kaká is saviour”

[4] “Zizou Top.” The Observer, 2000.

[5] Hadi Yahmid. “Ribery’s Islam “Noticed” in French WC Opener.”  Islamonline.net, June 17, 2006.

[6] Southon, “Kaká is saviour”

[7] The 2008 Time Magazine 100

[8] Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape

[9] Igreja Renascer em Cristo

[10] Kaka abandons evangelical church but not Real Madrid

[11]Brazil’s Top TV Preachers land in hot water in Miami 

[12] Evangelical Couple Kaka and wife separate after 9 years of marriage 

[13] Kaka making MLS record $7.17 million

2 thoughts on “Ricardo Kaká

  1. Neville Bonifacio Alficha

    Meus Parabens a ti Star Athlete Ricardo Kaka, por ouvir ki eis Cristao. Nao fcil ser cristao cm a sua carreira k tens. Muit s xamads pouco sao xcolhidos. 1cort 15v58 medita esse versiculo. Tenho um fundo desejo com consigo sobretudo assuntos d Cristo. agradeceria o fvor mi respond.God Bless You. Amen

    Reply

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