Football is about entertainment. It’s about what gets bums in seats in anticipation, and then what gets bums out of seats in delirium. At some point, this sport has probably made you bark and clap like a seal. And that’s why we keep coming back every week.
Of course, what moves us as spectators is subjective. There are those out there who prefer to ponder over La Pausa. And then there are those – like me – who just love to see ballers ball. The feints, the flicks, the jinks, the nutmegs. The creation of unorthodox solutions to near impossible obstacles. The parts of the game that force you to make involuntary noises like you’re Gary Neville on comms duty. The crossroads where football transcends sport and becomes art.
These days, most references to football as “The Beautiful Game” are sarcastic ways of grumbling about the sport’s embrace of new trends. Like a much more unserious version of Vito Corleone’s infamous “look how they massacred my boy” line in the Godfather film.
But to me, joga bonito is more than just a slogan. It’s a mantra. A promise to play the game with a fearless freedom. To express one’s individuality, but for the greater good. It’s the way we’ve seen countless generational talents announce themselves on the grandest of stages armed only with an unshakable confidence and a desire to manifest their potential.
I’m thinking of Ronaldinho, Marta, Eden Hazard and countless others who epitomised the quest for high rewards in high risk circumstances. But today, this type of protagonist is something of an endangered species.