Friday, 30 August 2019

A small step and a giant leap in the battle against homophobia in Brazilian football

Anyone who has played or watched football in Brazil has a homophobia story.

It might be the echoing cry of “viado” from a hateful soul in a nearby seat or from a child who cannot fully grasp its meaning. It might be the morons who treat every goal kick as an opportunity to tell the opposition goalkeeper that he is a “poof” — a refrain for which Brazil’s federation were fined no fewer than five times during qualifying for World Cup 2018.

These are the everyday cases, the ones that have, over the course of many decades, been smuggled into Brazil’s sporting culture under the banner of jocularity. “It’s only a bit of fun,” they’ll tell you. A lot of them will even believe it, too, remaining blissfully unaware that they might be making fellow fans feel uncomfortable or even unwelcome at the stadium.

Read my piece on homophobia in the Brazilian game – and a symbolic first step towards its eradication – on The Athletic. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

A Tricolor love story: What Daniel Alves' return means for São Paulo – and for Brazilian football as a whole

São Paulo is a club with a proud history, but recent years have been difficult and the last couple of weeks have felt faintly surreal.

It would be one thing to sign a player of Daniel Alves' calibre, with 41 senior titles to his name – more than any other player in the world – and a global cachet that stretches beyond that of the entire league, let alone one team.

It is another for that player to be quite so plainly overjoyed with his decision, to be doe-eyed and doting like a teenage in the throes of his first crush.

Read my piece on Alves' homecoming on The Athletic. 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Lucas Moura conundrum: Can the Tottenham star finally start to explore the outer reaches of his potential?

“To be, or not to be a superstar: that is the question.”

It was a good question seven years later, when Lucas Moura was profiled in Placar magazine, and it is still a good one today.

For the forward, now almost a decade into his career at senior level, continues to tiptoe the line between seven-out-of-ten solidity and something altogether more special. There have been flirtations with the outer reaches of his vast potential, but nothing sustained, no full-blown romance.

Is this season his best opportunity to finally take off? I look at that possibility in my latest for The Athletic.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Edu Gaspar is a man of substance as well as style. This is what he will bring to Arsenal as technical director

Composure, communication skills and the quiet inner confidence that comes only from a mastery of the facts at hand: these have been the foundations of Edu Gaspar’s second career.

The ingredients for a charmed life, too, for the 41-year-old has enjoyed remarkable success since swapping the midfield engine room for the boardroom.

Corinthians enjoyed the most fertile five-year spell in club history with Edu as director of football; his time in a similar role with the Brazil national team culminated in their first Copa America title since 2007.

You can be sure that Arsenal have not made Edu their first-ever technical director for sentimental reasons. And while his urbane charm and sharp suits do him no harm in the public-image stakes, to gauge opinion in his homeland is to be left in no doubt that he is a man of substance, too.

Read the rest of this piece over at The Athletic.

(And until the end of the month, you can get 50% off your first year using this link.)