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Explaining Brazil #129: Bolsonaro steering away from Bolsonarism


President Jair Bolsonaro has pretty much broken with everything he stood for in the 2018 election. He has not catered to Evangelicals in Congress; he has declared the end of Operation Car Wash; and his family is battling multiple corruption accusations. But Mr. Bolsonaro has never been stronger among politicians in Brasília — nor has he been more popular with voters.

Still, it is possible to see cracks in the Bolsonarism bloc, with some far-right activists calling for protests against the president — who they call a “closeted left-winger,” something the president — and anyone on the left — would strongly deny.

This week, we discuss the political repercussions of the president’s political shift.

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On this episode:

  • Pablo Ortellado is a philosopher, researcher, and public policy professor at the University of São Paulo. His research interests include copyright policies, access to information, cultural policies, and social movements.

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Explaining Brazil #128: Elections in the Time of Covid-19


In just over a month, Brazilians will go to the polls to choose their new mayors and city councilors. In previous episodes of the podcast, we have discussed the major sanitary implications these municipal elections may cause. Brazil has no system for mail-in ballots, which we see in the U.S., or vote-by-proxy, as they have in France, and the Brazilian voting system is, by design, a health hazard in coronavirus times. 

But this week, we want to tackle the political implications of the municipal races. For a foreign audience, mayoral races may seem too parochial, but they actually have a significant impact on national politics. And what happens in November 2020 will ripple over until 2022.

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On this episode:

  • Filipe Campante is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is interested in political economy, development economics, and urban/regional issues. His research looks at what constrains politicians and policymakers beyond formal checks and balances: cultural norms, institutions, media, political protest.

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Explaining Brazil #127: When protection becomes repression


Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Latin American countries have shown us both sides of an ugly coin. Some have been called out for not enacting social distancing rules during the pandemic. Others, for using them as a means of repression against specific populations.

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On this episode:

  • Louise Tillotson is an Amnesty International researcher for the Caribbean. Prior to joining Amnesty International, Ms. Tillotson worked across the Caribbean developing human rights-based responses to HIV and AIDS.

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Explaining Brazil #126: You give Brazil a bad name


The 75th edition of the United Nations General Assembly was a unique one. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaders did not attend the UN headquarters, in New York, sending in pre-recorded speeches instead. The result was perhaps the worst Zoom conference ever. Brazil opened the general debates, as is customary — with President Jair Bolsonaro using his 14 minutes to spread multiple falsehoods and pander to his own base — instead of addressing the world’s concerns about Brazil.

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On this episode:

  • Guilherme Casarões holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of São Paulo. He is the deputy-coordinator of the Public Administration School at think tank Fundação Getulio Vargas, and has launched the Observatory of the Extreme Right, a project to monitor the behavior of extremist groups in the political arena.

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Explaining Brazil #125: Brazil’s Supreme Court at a crossroads


Luiz Fux takes office as Brazil’s new Supreme Court chief justice at a crucial moment: the country faces what is arguably the biggest political crisis since its return to democracy in 1985; the president who talks about sending troops to shut down the court is more popular than ever; and Brazil is hurtling towards what looks set to be the worst economic crisis in history. 

Oh, and then there is that pandemic which is still raging on.

So, what kind of court will Chief Justice Fux lead? That’s what we will try to unpack this week.

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On this episode:

  • Benjamin Fogel is a regular contributor to The Brazilian Report, he also writes for Jacobin magazine and Africa is a Country. He is working on a Ph.D. on the history of Brazilian corruption politics at New York University.

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Explaining Brazil #124: Rio’s descent into political hell

This week’s episode, Rio de Janeiro’s descent into political hell, was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — with a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion.

It was also supported by AirYourVoice.com, a platform that offers a SEO Mastery course which will help make your company’s website the top-ranked in your field, in no time at all. 


Rio de Janeiro was the center of the world in 2014 and 2016, when Brazil hosted the football World Cup and the Olympics. It seemed like a turning point for the City, with Brazil’s soft power reaching a historic high. 

Four years later, everything seems to have gone downhill. Every single living former governor of Rio has been jailed at some point, and the incumbent governor could face the same destiny. Apart from its political troubles, Rio continues to battle the Covid-19 outbreak, violent crime, police brutality, and an economic collapse that has no end in sight.

This week, we discuss Rio’s endemic corruption problem.

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On this episode:

  • Mauricio Santoro holds a Ph.D. in Political Science. He is currently an Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of International Relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. He also writes op-eds for The Brazilian Report.
  • Benjamin Fogel is a regular contributor to The Brazilian Report, he also writes for Jacobin magazine and Africa is a Country. He is working on a Ph.D. on the history of Brazilian corruption politics at New York University.

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Explaining Brazil #123: Reducing business complexity in Brazil

This week’s episode, Reducing business complexity in Brazil, was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — which have a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion.

It was also supported by AirYourVoice.com, a platform that offers an SEO Mastery course which will make your company’s website the top-ranked in your field, in no time at all. 


The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics has just published Brazil’s second-quarter GDP numbers. The results were slightly worse than anticipated — and the bar was already set very low, to begin with. Brazil’s economy shrank by an eye-watering 9.7 percent, as a direct result of strict quarantine measures enforced in late March and April.

Still, there are some silver linings to take away from the results. But experts condition their optimism to the approval of structural reforms to reduce public spending, simplify regulations, and improve the business environment.

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On this episode:

  • Rodrigo Zambon is the managing director of the TMF Group in Brazil, a service provider in administrative support for businesses looking to expand operations internationally. 

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Explaining Brazil #122: Six months of the coronavirus in Latin America

This week’s episode, Six months of the coronavirus in Latin America, was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — which have a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion.

It was also supported by AirYourVoice.com, a platform that offers a SEO Mastery course which will make your company’s website the top-ranked in your field, in no time at all. 


We don’t know exactly when the coronavirus began infecting people in Latin America. 

Some researchers say that Sars-CoV-2 might have been circulating in Brazil as early as January, while one preliminary study suggested the virus may even have been present in the country back in November 2019. But the first confirmed Covid-19 infection happened exactly six months ago, when a 61-year-old man tested positive in São Paulo.

Half a year later, Latin America is the global epicenter of the pandemic — with five of the region’s countries among the top 10 worst-hit nations in the world. So far, 6.7 million cases have been confirmed south of the Rio Grande, along with over 260,000 deaths.

How things have gotten so out of control? 

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On this episode:

  • Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets.
  • Aline Gatto Boueri is a data journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Explaining Brazil #121: The end of an era in Colombia

This week’s episode, The Al Capone of Colombia, was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — which have a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion.

It also had the support of AirYourVoice.com, a platform that offers a SEO Mastery course which will make your company’s website the top-ranked in your field, in no time at all. 


Arguably the most powerful politician in Colombia, former President Álvaro Uribe has faced countless accusations of human rights violations and links to paramilitary groups. But just like Chicago gangster Al Capone was nailed for tax evasion, Uribe’s downfall might actually come from a case involving fraud and witness tampering — which led to the country’s Supreme Court placing him under house arrest earlier this month.

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On this episode:

  • Sebastián Ronderos is a Ph.D. student in Ideology and Discourse Analysis at the University of Essex. He holds a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Granada, further specializing in Conflict Resolution at the Pontifical Xavierian University, in Sociology at the School of Sociology and Politics of São Paulo, and in Comparative Politics at the University of Lisbon. He studied Politics at the University of the Andes.

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Explaining Brazil #120: Brazilian football hits fever pitch, literally

This week’s episode, “Brazilian football hits fever pitch, literally,” was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — which have a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion. AMEC works to support minority shareholders’ rights by fostering governance and stewardship principles that strengthen the market as a whole.


In the middle of the deadliest epidemic in Brazil’s history, recording over 100,000 deaths and 3 million Covid-19 cases, what could the country do to make the spread of the disease even worse?

Imagine you had 60 groups of between 30 and 40 people each, hailing from all over Brazil. Then, they are split into three pools each individual group travels to visit every other group in their pool, with intervals of only three days between meetings. When they do meet, they remain in close physical contact with each other for at least 90 minutes, without wearing a mask.

That sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, that’s what’s happening in Brazil right now, with the national football season kicking off, right in the middle of a pandemic.

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On this episode:

  • Tim Vickery is a freelance English football journalist, who has lived in Brazil since 1994. He is the South American football correspondent for BBC Sport, contributing to the corporation’s output online, on TV and radio. Vickery frequently writes for World Soccer, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated and he is also an analyst on SporTV’s main morning program, Redação SporTV.
  • José Roberto Castro is a journalist covering politics and economics. He is finishing a Master’s Degree in Media and Globalization. Previously, he worked at Nexo Jornal and O Estado de S. Paulo before joining The Brazilian Report.

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Explaining Brazil #119: Brazil’s place in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine

This week’s episode, Brazil’s place in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, was supported by AMEC, the Brazilian Association of Investors in Capital Markets. AMEC brings together around 60 institutional investors from Brazil and abroad — which have a combined portfolio of over USD 130 billion. AMEC works to support minority shareholders’ rights by fostering governance and stewardship principles that strengthen the market as a whole.


Brazil has miserably failed in its half-hearted attempt to contain the coronavirus. In five months, the country recorded almost 3 million infections and nearly 100 thousand deaths. And the spread of the disease shows no signs of slowing down. Ironically, however, the fact that the coronavirus spread is still active in Brazil means that it could well become the first country in the world to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

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On this episode:

  • Fernando Spilki is the president of the Brazilian Society for Virology. He coordinates a Brazilian effort to map the genome of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19. Dr. Spilki is also a member of the Advisory Board at the U.S.-based organization Dimensions Sciences, which fosters scientific research in Brazil. 

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Explaining Brazil #118: Bolsonaro’s ticket to re-election

Brazilians are heading to the polls in November to elect new mayors and city councilors in each of the country’s 5,570 municipalities. But the most important election before the 2022 presidential race will happen within the confines of Congress: the decision on who will be the next House Speaker and Senate President. That will determine which measures the government will manage to pass to counter the effects of the pandemic — and determine whether Jair Bolsonaro’s desire for re-election is realistic or not. 


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Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro is the editor-in-chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

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Explaining Brazil #117: Biden or Trump, what changes for Brazil?


Brazilian relations with the U.S. go way back to 1824, when Washington became the first country to recognize Brazil’s independence from Portugal. This relationship took a more “personal” tone in 2019, with President Jair Bolsonaro trying to forge a friendship with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump. But with a worsening coronavirus crisis, Mr. Trump’s re-election is in jeopardy — and many analysts see the 2020 U.S. presidential race all but decided in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden.

What would a regime change mean for Brazil? And Latin America?

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On this episode:

  • Carlos Gustavo Poggio is a professor of international relations with a focus on U.S. foreign policy at the São Paulo-based Armando Alvares Penteado Foundation. He is a former Fulbright scholar, holding a Ph.D. in international studies from Old Dominion University in Virginia. 
  • Peter Hakim is president emeritus and a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue. From 1993 to 2010, he served as president of the organization. Prior to joining the Dialogue, Mr. Hakim was a vice president of the Inter-American Foundation and worked for the Ford Foundation in New York, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. 

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro is the editor-in-chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.
  • This episode was produced by Natália Scalzaretto. She has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Before joining The Brazilian Report, she worked as an editor for Trading News, the information division of the TradersClub investor community.

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Explaining Brazil #116: Deforestation is bad for business


While the pandemic has terrorized Brazil, deforestation has not let up whatsoever. On Friday, official data showed that deforestation levels in June were over 10 percent higher than last year, making that the 14th consecutive month of increasing rates of forest destruction in the Amazon basin.

While this may seem trivial at a time when over 75,000 Brazilians have died from Covid-19 and the economy is tanking, a continuation of this rising trend of deforestation could lead to grave financial, political and humanitarian problems in the near future.

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On this episode:

  • Sam Cowie is a British journalist specialized in covering the Amazon region. He has been published by Al Jazeera, BBC, The Guardian, The Intercept.
  • Natália Scalzaretto covers markets for The Brazilian Report. She has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology.

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro is the editor-in-chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

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Explaining Brazil #115: Bolsonaro is one in a 1.6 million


During the pandemic crisis, President Jair Bolsonaro has distinguished himself as arguably the biggest Covid-19 denialist in the world. He compared the disease to the “sniffles,” said social isolation was useless against the coronavirus, promoted unproven treatments, and incited supporters to break into hospitals and “film empty beds.” In his mind, this would prove that the crisis is being blown out of proportion in a stunt to destabilize his administration. All that despite growing numbers of infections and deaths.

Now, Jair Bolsonaro is one of the 1.6 million people in Brazil to have contracted the novel coronavirus. And he hopes to turn his diagnosis into a political weapon.

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Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro is the editor-in-chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Explaining Brazil #114: Violent effects of Brazil’s job apocalypse


Since January, Brazil has already lost 1.4 million formal jobs — according to data from the Economy Ministry. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics reports that a total of almost 13 million people are out of a job. And that doesn’t even count the millions who, due to the pandemic, simply cannot — or will not — look for a job. Besides the obvious problems with that, a group of researchers showed that job loss can drive crime rates up. Way up.

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On this episode:

  • Diogo Britto is a postdoctoral researcher in economics at Bocconi University, in Italy. He holds a joint Ph.D. degree in Law and Economics at the Universities of Bologna, Hamburg, and Erasmus Rotterdam, a MSc from the University of Bologna and Bachelor from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He is mainly interested in the economics of crime and development economics.
  • Benjamin Fogel is a regular contributor to The Brazilian Report, he also writes for Jacobin magazine and Africa is a Country. He is conducting a Ph.D. on the history of Brazilian corruption at New York University.

Background reading:

Explaining Brazil is made by:

  • Gustavo Ribeiro is the editor-in-chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.
  • Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

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Special: The Greatest Tournament in History

We left off our tale of the 1970 World Cup with Brazil beating England, the reigning world champions. It was a stunning game of football and it also represented a passing of the baton — Brazil were the new kings-in-waiting.

But they still had plenty to do. In the knockout stage, they had to get past Peru and Uruguay, before facing Italy in the grand finale in Mexico City. 

But however fabled that game may be, largely thanks to Brazil’s historic fourth goal and the post-match celebrations. It’s not exactly a classic match. The first-half is tight, but the second 45 minutes provide no contest whatsoever: Italy are dead on their feet, and Brazil look like Barcelona playing against an over 50s pub team.

In this final episode of our series, we look back at the legend of that final, and then try and frame the legacy of the 1970 World Cup, both in Brazil and abroad.


Listen to episode 1 and episode 2


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On this episode:

  • Tim Vickery is a freelance English football journalist, who has lived in Brazil since 1994. He is the South American football correspondent for BBC Sport, contributing to the corporation’s output online, on TV and radio. Vickery frequently writes for World Soccer, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and he is also an analyst on SporTV’s main morning program, Redação SporTV.
  • Andrew Downie is a Scottish journalist and the author of “Doctor Socrates: Footballer, Philosopher, Legend.” His latest work, an oral history of the 1970 World Cup entitled “The Greatest Show on Earth,” is available for pre-order now. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, GQ, Reuters, and Esquire, among others.

This special series is made by

  • Euan Marshall, script and interviews. Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.
  • Gustavo Ribeiro, sound engineering. Gustavo is editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

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Special: How the King of Football got his crown

Edson Arantes do Nascimento is one of the most famous individuals in the world, but he’s not known for the name on his birth certificate. People from all corners of the Earth — even if they don’t follow football or know nothing about Brazil — will instantly recognize the name Pelé. He’s the greatest player in the history of football, and the 1970 World Cup in Mexico is seen as his finest hour, when he led Brazil to its third world title.

However, what the tributes to the 1970 World Cup often overlook is the fact that just months before the tournament began, Brazilians were debating whether Pelé was even good enough to play for the national team. And Pelé himself had vowed never to play at another World Cup, believing that the tournament itself was cursed.

In today’s second part of a three-part special Explaining Brazil series on the 1970 World Cup, we’re going to look at just how the King of Football got his crown, from early retirement to undisputed soccer legend.


Listen to episode 1

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On this episode:

  • Tim Vickery is a freelance English football journalist, who has lived in Brazil since 1994. He is the South American football correspondent for BBC Sport, contributing to the corporation’s output online, on TV and radio. Vickery frequently writes for World Soccer, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and he is also an analyst on SporTV’s main morning program, Redação SporTV.
  • Andrew Downie is a Scottish journalist and the author of “Doctor Socrates: Footballer, Philosopher, Legend.” His latest work, an oral history of the 1970 World Cup entitled “The Greatest Show on Earth,” is available for pre-order now. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, GQ, Reuters, and Esquire, among others.

This special series is made by

  • Euan Marshall, script and interviews. Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.
  • Gustavo Ribeiro, sound engineering. Gustavo is editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

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How Brazil became the Land of Football

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1970, the greatest national football team of all time won the World Cup in Mexico. Far from being merely an impressive win on the soccer pitch, Brazil’s victory in 1970 changed how we think about and watch football, and it changed Brazil. The country came into the tournament as a talented developing nation, with two World Cups under its belt already, but by the end of 1970, Brazil was known around the world as the Land of Football.


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On this episode:

  • Tim Vickery is a freelance English football journalist, who has lived in Brazil since 1994. He is the South American football correspondent for BBC Sport, contributing to the corporation’s output online, on TV and radio. Vickery frequently writes for World Soccer, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and he is also an analyst on SporTV’s main morning programme, Redação SporTV.
  • Andrew Downie is a Scottish journalist and the author of “Doctor Socrates: Footballer, Philosopher, Legend.” His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, GQ, Reuters, and Esquire, among others.

This special series is made by

  • Euan Marshall, script and interviews. Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics, and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Independent, among others.
  • Gustavo Ribeiro, sound engineering. Gustavo is editor in chief of The Brazilian Report. He has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de S.Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at podcast@brazilian.report

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Support this coverage →Support this podcast →