By Camila Rodrigues
A good 7-1. That’s how it was defined, with the laughter of those who played and those who watched the friendly match between the team of the Florestan Fernandes National School (ENFF) and Autônomos Futebol Clube (Autônomos F.C.), which took place on the cold morning of June 11, in Guararema, São Paulo. The match, won by the visiting team, was the first activity launching the campaign for the construction of Dr. Socrates Brasileiro soccer pitch at the School.
During the activity, a round table discussed the connections among soccer and politics. The discussion was followed by the presentation of the soccer pitch project.
The fundraising for the project is being made through the crowdfunding platform known as Catarse, which starts on Tuesday (21), and aims to receive approximately US$ 18,000 in donations, which is the estimated cost to build the soccer pitch and its surroundings.
“We have a larger project of a sports complex, which is not restricted to the pitch, so that students who spend long periods in ENFF can have sports activities. We think it is a matter of health, education and leisure,” explains Diana Fernandes, member of the Association of Friends of the Florestan Fernandes National School (AAENFF).
The sports complex project was prepared by the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo (FAU-USP) and, besides the soccer pitch – which is the first step of the project – includes a memorial, a sand court, a running track and a fitness area.
The deadline for achieving the proposed amount is two months starting this Tuesday (21) and donations can be made here.
It is estimated that the inauguration of the soccer pitch and the stands take place on December 4 of this year, in commemoration of Socrates’s date of birth [Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio, a beloved Brazilian soccer player and political activist].
Do Soccer and Class Struggle Mix?
The mística [a political and spiritual celebration] that preceded the round table discussion began with activists of the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) chanting the question above. Then, men and women attending the celebration listed historical episodes that showed this relationship – for example, when in 1983 the Soviet Union soccer team refused to play in the National Stadium of Chile, where many people were killed during Operation Condor, under Pinochet’s government; or in 2005, when Drogba, a player from the Ivory Coast team, made a speech with the purpose of discussing the tensions generated by the civil war in his country.
One of the last references cited by the Landless activists was the Corinthian Democracy (Democracia Corinthiana), a political movement created by Socrates (1954-2011) and other soccer players in the 1980’s.
It was in this atmosphere that the debate started, with the participation of two players of the Atônomos F.C., Luciane de Castro, journalist from the Football for Girls blog; Carlos Duarte, a member of the coordination of AAENFF; Jorge Bassani, Professor from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU) of the University of São Paulo; and Paul Müller, researcher at the USP Housing Laboratory (LabHab).
The Autônomos F.C., founded by punks and anarchists of the city of São Paulo in 2006, is an informal soccer team that plays in national and international championships in its category. They claim that, in addition to commercial soccer, this sport can be suitable as a bonding tool and for political articulation, since it is the space in which people interact outside of the work place.
Gabriel Brito, a journalist and a player of the Autonomos F.C., says that this is already happening elsewhere in the world. “There is an anti-fascist network of social movements connected through soccer. In 2010, for example, we were invited to create an alternative World Cup by an English amateur team, which was founded by anarchist militants who fought against the Thatcher government in the 1980s,” he reported.
Another topic of discussion was Women’s soccer, marginalized from the beginning. “Women’s soccer is a political act in itself and will never be comparable to male soccer. They are very different things,” said Luciane de Castro, who is also curator at the Soccer Museum in Sao Paulo.
The construction of the soccer pitch is an initiative of the Association of Friends of the Florestan Fernandes National School (AAENFF), which articulated contacts with the FAU-USP for the joint development of a sports complex at the ENFF.
In addition to the soccer pitch, the complex is planned to have a sand court, an outdoor gym space, revitalize an existing race track and a memorial dedicated to Socrates’s life.
“It was a project that we designed, but that was designed collectively by the staff of the School, of the FAU-USP and members of the Association of Friends of the ENFF. There were several conversations to discuss issues related to cost and the school dynamics,” said Jorge Bassani, a professor at FAU-USP.
The part to be built at this moment includes the soccer pitch and its stands, which will not be constructed in a traditional way.
Bassani says that at first they thought of a space for about 200 people. “But we realized that even a stand for this amount of people would be a major obstacle, and instead of bringing people together, it would serve almost as a blockade between the soccer pitch and the rest of the space,” he explained.
Therefore, the final design has small modules with benches that people can use, even if there are no games going on.
“We took a number of references and thought of something that would work both to integrate the activities of the soccer pitch with the rest of the school and other forms of uses, that is, it was a space where people could talk, play guitar or just hang out beside the soccer pitch,” he described.
The soccer pitch itself is designed to minimize maintenance costs. Thus, the structure has a number of layers and mechanisms that allow it to drain enough on rainy days so that matches can take place.