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Horizontes Antropológicos

Print version ISSN 0104-7183


RIAL, Carmen. Rodar: the circulation of brazilian football players abroad.Translated byLetícia Maria Costa da Nóbrega Cesarino. Horiz.antropol. [online]. 2008, vol.4Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 0104-7183.

Of the millions of Brazilians who currently live abroad, nearly 5 thousand play football in the world's top clubs. This article draws on the anthropological perspective to analyse the migration of these successful Brazilian players in order to understand the characteristics of this particular global circulation of people and capital which has a huge presence in the mediascape (Appadurai, 1990). Of all 'exports' and emigrations currently underway, that of football players has the greatest symbolic impact, both in Brazil and abroad. As the brain drain resulting from the emigration of scientists, this could be framed as an instance of 'fleeting feet'. I look at the plans, consumption and lifestyle of these players based on ethnographic data gathered in Seville, Spain and Eindhoven, Holland, as well as through conversations with more than 40 Brazilian players living or trying to live in foreign countries. These contacts took place in Toronto, Canada; Almelo, Groningen, Alkmaar, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam in Holland, Tokyo, Japan; Lyon, Le Mans, Nancy and Lille in France, Monaco; Charleroi, Belgium; and in Fortaleza, Salvador and Belém, Brazil. I explore the intersections of age, social origin and religion, and note that many of the players were the youngest siblings in their families. The large majority are low income, and attend evangelical churches. I also found that these immigrant athletes are increasingly younger. I conclude that the constant change of employer (club or global club), countries and the large number of 'repatriates' characterise this migratory movement as a circulation. It is what the players call 'rodar', cast positively as an opportunity for amassing experience. This circulation takes place in protected zones, where a banal nationalism (Billig, 1995) is constantly activated. Even after obtaining legal citizenship, they continue to be seen and to perceive themselves as foreigners. In this case, therefore, nationalisation has a strategic purpose (Sassen, 2008). I conclude that these players cross geographic borders without really entering the countries, because their borders are not national but those of the clubs.

Keywords : emigration; football; global club; nationalisation.

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