WSU Professor Discusses Tensions of Soccer in Brazil

To say that soccer is popular in Brazil would be an understatement. With more than 13,000 who play professionally and many more who play for fun, the sport is Brazil’s social and political lifeblood. In April, Weber State University history professor Jeffrey Richey discussed the economic, political and social tensions that underlie Brazil’s passion for soccer.

In Brazil, and elsewhere, people celebrate soccer as “the beautiful game.” Not only is it Brazil’s most popular spectacle and activity, but it also has been hailed as a means of social and racial unification, a source of pride to a country that has more soccer titles than any other country. 

There is, however, a dark side to the sport in Brazil. As Brazil prepared to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, the county’s extreme tension became evident as many Brazilians questioned the cost — economic, political and social — of Brazil’s passion for soccer. 

Richey’s presentation, “A Dangerous Game: Brazil, the World Cup, and Soccer at Any Cost,” discussed the corruption, loss of national sovereignty and public debates that have surrounded this unique moment in Brazilian history.

Richey specializes in the social and cultural history of modern Latin America. His dissertation, “Playing at Nation: Soccer Competitions, Racial Ideology and National Integration in Argentina, 1912-1931,” explored the impact of organized soccer and the popular sports press in early 20th century Argentina. Richey’s other research interests include sport and society, popular culture, race and racism, national identity and regionalism.

Richey teaches history courses dealing with Latin America, Spain and Portugal, including experimental courses about Brazilian history and world soccer.

The Weber Historical Society Lecture Series is sponsored together with the WSU Alumni Association, the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, the College of Education, WSU’s Department of History and WSU’s Stewart Library. All Weber Historical Society lectures are free and open to the public.

Visit for more information about the Weber Historical Society Lecture Series.