The introduction situates the book within the historiography of Brazil between 1889 and 1945, and within scholarship on Latin American culture and sport. It explains the book’s organization and methodology, and presents the book’s argument, which is that the history of Brazilian football is best understood as a history of Brazilian ideas, arguments, and actions to make the country a modern, developed, and unified nation. It explains that the popular history of Brazilian football, one dominated by a narrative crafted in the 1930s, asserts that football has revealed Brazil’s authentic national identity and helped to make the country more just and more democratic. It asserts that this popular history obscures as much as it reveals, rendering the early history of Brazilian football (roughly 1894–1914) as more Eurocentric and more elitist than it was, and the populist era (roughly 1920–1940) as more democratic and more inclusive than it was.
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