Sócrates RIP

Posted: 4 December 2011 in Uncategorized
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Sócrates (Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira was his full name) has died at the age of 57. Here is the announcement, and here’s an obituary by Brian Glanville.

Football fans remember Sócrates for his time playing at Corinthians and his role in Brazil’s 1982 World Cup team (one of the best teams not to win the Cup), when he scored one of the best World Cup goals of all time.

He should also be remembered for his leadership of the Corinthians Democracy movement. According to Gavin McOwan,

I was lucky enough to interview “The Doctor” in 2002 and was awed by his wisdom and good humour – not to mention the number of beers he could knock back. He was clearly one of football’s great sages, but also held court on everything from his surreal meeting in the Libyan desert with Colonel Gaddafi (who urged Sócrates to run for Brazilian president) to his love of Ché Guevara.

But for Brazilians who lived through the 21 years of the country’s military dictatorship, Sócrates will also be remembered as a social activist and campaigner for democracy, both within the game and on the wider political stage.

While a player at Corinthians, he co-founded the Corinthians Democracy movement, an idealistic but effective political cell which fought against the authoritarian way the club’s management controlled its players, a microcosm of the way the country was governed by the military. Sócrates, together with teammate Wladimir, organised the players to discuss and then vote with a simple show of hands on all matters which affected them, from simple things like what time they would eat lunch to challenging the dreaded concentracão, a common practice in Brazil where players are practically locked up in a hotel for one or two days before a game.

Football—played without timeouts, specialist players, and a small number of substitutions—is a sport that, at least on the pitch, is run by the players as a group. Sócrates and his teammates at Corinthians showed that the players could also make the decisions to organize their work as a collective off the pitch.

  1. […] But what would a different World Cup look like? As it turns out, Brazil offers an alternative in its own history, in the form of one of its own brilliant footballers. No, not Pelé. I’m thinking of Sócrates (Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira was his full name), who was the captain of the Selecão and of Corinthians and the leader of the Corinthians Democracy movement. (He died in 2011.) […]

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