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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 17:28 GMT
Tim Vickery column
Brazil fan sporting national colours

Tim Vickery
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

Perhaps it was a lame attempt at humour. Maybe it was taken out of context or was the result of a badly transcribed phone interview.

But Brazil's sports daily Lance! republished a 2006 article in which veteran comedian and noted football fan Chico Anysio made disparaging remarks about black goalkeepers - saying he believed they were no good.

Anysio claimed: "My thinking on black goalkeepers has nothing to do with discrimination, because I adore black strikers, black centre backs, black playmakers and holding midfielders; I don't see how a white or yellow or red can be better than a black in the 100 metres, long or triple jump and long distance events.

"In basketball the blacks are real gods, and they dominate American football. I just don't like them in goal."

Those were heavy words, all the more so when they reappear in the week that Brazil was awarded the 2014 World Cup.

The previous occasion that Brazil staged the competition was in 1950. The country built the giant Maracana stadium, assembled one of its greatest ever sides and was convinced that victory would bring global admiration.

Before the final game the mayor of Rio even proclaimed the hosts world champions. It was an unfair burden to place on any team. Uruguay spoiled the party by coming from behind to win 2-1.

A few years back, when I used to write a column for Rio's Jornal dos Sports, I came across a lovely old guy who worked in the newspaper's archive section. He had been in the Maracana that day - and found the experience so painful that he never returned. Defeat was a national trauma, taken with a heavy dose of racial inferiority.

Back in the 1950's, some Brazilians feared they lacked steel. Some even suggested that they were an inferior race.
Brazil goalkeeper Barbosa
Barbosa in action in the 1950 World Cup

The black players got much of the blame for the defeat to Uruguay - especially the goalkeeper, Barbosa, who had been beaten at his near post for Ghiggia's title-winning second Uruguayan goal.

Much of this racial nonsense was buried in 1958 when with Didi 'the Ethiopian Prince' pulling the strings in midfield, the young Pele shining and the extraordinary Garrincha, of indigenous roots, tearing defences apart on the right wing, Brazil won the World Cup in Sweden.

But something of the stigma stuck to the position of goalkeeper. Barbosa, generally considered a magnificent shot stopper, was never allowed to forget that fateful afternoon in 1950, and grumbled to the end of his days about being condemned for a crime he had not committed.

Sixty four years later someone else will take on the burden of defending Brazil's goal in a World Cup on home soil.

It is a task of daunting responsibility - and it is perfectly possible that it will fall to a black goalkeeper.

Decades of specialist preparation have brought about a huge rise in the standard of Brazil's goalkeepers, many of whom are black.

In his own quiet way Dida has done a great deal to counter the prejudice that may linger on in the generation of Chico Anysio.

'Lance!' opted to republish Anysio's words last Wednesday because that night the meeting of Brazil's two most popular teams would feature an outstanding young black keeper at either end.

Without Felipe, Corinthians would already be relegated, while Bruno has been a key part of Flamengo's late surge towards a place in next year's Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League. Come 2014 both could well be in the frame to form Brazil's last line of defence.

Felipe will be 30, Bruno 29 - the age when keepers are typically at their peak. Both have all the attributes to carry out the task with honour.

But if it all goes wrong and the hosts are defeated, Brazilian society will surely be sufficiently mature to know that it has nothing to do with the colour of their goalkeeper's skin.

You can put your questions to Tim Vickery every week on the World Football Phone-in on Radio 5 Live's Up All Night programme, from 0230 to 0400am every Saturday morning. You can also download last week's World Football Phone-in Podcast.


Got a question about South American football for Tim Vickery? Email him at

Argentina's national team has been well-served by two very attacking and versatile full-backs - Javier Zanetti and Jaun Pablo Sorin. While not as aggressive as their Brazilian counterparts, they have lent vital flexibility and attacking width to the team. Can you please throw some light on the younger generation of full-backs from Argentina who may be expected to succeed their illustrious seniors.
Saurabh Bhattacharjee, New Delhi, India

This could well be a problem area. It's not a great strength of Argentine football - I remember Jose Pekerman when he was national team coach saying that the thing he most envied in Brazil was their tradition of attacking full backs.

Maybe Pablo Zabaleta of Espanol is on option on the right - he played a couple of friendlies there for Argentina last year without great success, but he's young enough to come through.

On the left the cupboard looks very bare. I think Julio Arca was playing in a more central role for Middlesbrough before his injury, but once he recovers he might well be worth a look.

I wondered what you thought of Chile's chances of qualifying for the next World Cup as they look to have some terrific talents coming through like Mathias Fernandez, Arturo Vidal, Valdivia, as well as the return of experienced Marcelo Salas?
James Perry, Bristol

They certainly have some interesting players coming through - it's a pity that Valdivia has fallen out with the national team because he's a lovely player to watch.

As well as Fernandez, teenage winger Alexis Sanchez (injured at the moment) looks like the genuine article, and play-maker Carlos Villanueva is interesting as well.

Defensive resources are thinner - I'll be interested to see what position the very promising Vidal settles into - and they have a top class coach now in the Argentine Marcelo Bielsa.

In last month's opening two rounds of World Cup qualification they were a mixed bag; they beat Peru comfortably enough at home but expected to give Argentina more of a game in Buenos Aires.

This month they have Uruguay away and Paraguay at home - two tough matches that will tell us much more about the credibility of their 2010 challenge.

I would like to know your opinion about Sporting Lisbon striker Liedson. I've seen some reports in the press quoting assistant coach Jorginho saying that Dunga is looking at new players for Brazil and Liedson could be one of them.
Luis Filipe

It's strange that with Brazil currently not looking solid in the centre forward position the name of Liedson has hardly been mentioned in the Brazilian press - I'd overlooked him myself.

There's one huge advantage he should have - he played -with success - for Brazil's two most popular clubs, Flamengo and Corinthians, so you'd think he'd have a more powerful lobby in his favour.

I rate him highly - skilful, very competitive, and despite his slight build can be effective in crowded penalty areas - though I was very disappointed in him a couple of years back in the Uefa Cup final against CSKA Moscow.

Big occasions are when the big players shine, and I expected much more from him that day.

He seems in good form - on the score sheet again this weekend and on target in the last round of the Champions League, so yes, maybe Dunga should have a look at him.

Brazil set to host 2014 World Cup
30 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Tim Vickery column
22 Oct 07 |  Internationals


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