Entrance to the CFB Museum in Rio de Janeiro.
Special post by Felipe Tobar, doctoral student at Clemson University:
As a social phenomenon, sports provide a rich platform of controversial and interdisciplinary topics to be investigated within the academia. Although limited by a pattern of selecting specific narratives over other for commercial reasons, sports museums – through what they display and what they omit – are a fruitful spaces whereby historical or/and contemporary sporting issues such as gender, racism, sexism, gambling, migration, politics, corruption, culture or economy can be critically scrutinized.
This is the first post of a two-post series that will examine my perceptions regarding a tour that I took on 9 May 2018 at the “Museu da Seleçāo Brasileira” (Brazilian National Team Museum – BNTM) located at the Headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Seeking to advance on the findings of my master’s thesis entitled ‘Brazilian Football in the ‘game’ of Cultural Heritage: An interdisciplinary analysis about the relations of power’, and rather than making a recreational visit, the purpose of the tour was twofold: First, analyze how the museum displayed the images of the last two CBF presidents, Mr. Jose Maria Marin, and Mr. Marco Polo Del Nero, both involved in corruption scandals. In this particular, it is essential to highlight that at that time of the tour, Mr. Marin was already found guilty in New York by the practice of money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy, while Mr. Del Nero, on 27 April 2018 was banned for life from all football-related activities after FIFA’s Ethics Committee considered him guilty of receiving bribes in exchange for his role in awarding contracts to companies for the media and marketing rights to various football tournaments in Latin America.
The second aim was identifying whether the museum exhibits the view of the National Squad as part of Brazil´s Cultural Heritage, or if it rejects such notion to the same extent the ‘ball bench’ – a group of more than 40 politicians (congressmen and senators) who are close to and guided by the CBF, have been assuring at the Brazilian National Congress. Since 2005, six bills, one provisional measure and one constitutional amendment were unsuccessfully presented to nominate both the practice of football and the National Squad as part of Brazil´s Cultural Heritage by politicians like the former player and 1994 World Cup Champion, Senator Romário. The intentions surround these projects was seeking to put CBF under the radar of the Public Prosecutor’s Office by the fact that in Brazil, session 5 (III) of the Public Prosecutor Act states, among others functions and duties, that the public prosecutor shall protect the Brazilian Cultural Heritage. Consequently, CBF’s controversy economical transactions could immediately be placed under investigation if the practice of football and the National Team become part of the official heritage realm. That said, in this post, I will shed some lights on the first intention of the tour, primarily because the topic has recently gained in relevance after Mr. Marin was sentenced by Judge Pamela Chen in a Brooklyn federal court on August 22, to four years in prison following his conviction on corruption charges, thus becoming the first football director involved on `FIFA Gate` to be sent to jail.
The pictures show how Mr. José Maria Marin and Mr. Marco Polo Del Nero are being depicted through the Interactive and electronic panel of the session ‘A centenary legend’ in BNTM.
The tour itself, originally named “The CBF Experience,” mirrors the Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Experience Tours, as it shares the same Spanish company (Media Fio), which oversaw the creation, concept, and layout of all three museums.The intentions of the tour lead visitors to ignite or reaffirm the love of Brazilian people to its national team, regardless of their geographical location. Visitors were encouraged to watch a nostalgic video entitled ‘We are Football,’ which featured the most memorable moments of the National Team in World Cups as well as fans cheering and dancing the samba (Brazilian popular music genre) either on the streets or at the stands, thus emulating a sense of national identity through football. After that, an interactive audiovisual journey guides the visitor through the history of the National Team by ten exhibitions: 1 – ‘Passion’; 2- ‘Origins’; 3- ‘Our skin’; 4 – ‘A centenary legend’; 5- ‘A Galaxy of Trophies’; 6- ‘360º – The kings of the World’; 7- ‘Brasil: 27 States, only one DNA’; 8- ‘Brazil Planet’; 9-‘CBF Immersive’ and 10- ‘We are Canarinho’. The tour ends at the CBF store where fans can purchase souvenirs (e.g., official t-shirt) related to both the country and the National Squad.
“We Are Football” at the CFB Museum
Managed by interactive and electronic panels, the fourth session provides to its visitors an immediate contact with the past throughone single touch, either by listening recordings of memorable matches called by sportscasters from radios or tv channels or looking into theachievements of the `protagonists` (players, head coaches, and CBF former presidents) at international contests since its foundation. After a quick search of the displays, Mr. Marin and Mr. Del Nero, as well as Mr. Joāo Havelange (former FIFA president too) and Mr. Ricardo Teixeira – both of whom were part of a bribery scheme from a collapsed marketing company (ISL) in the 90’s as documents released by a Swiss Court in 2012 proved – were easily identified. As expected, they were depicted in a celebratory fashion and displayed alongside of the titles captured by the National Team under their leadership. As such, realizing that CBF intentionally omits these dark chapters from public attention, I asked the guide whether there was a kind of embarrassment in his perspective by continuing displaying those sports directors. Although he answered that they were part of the Brazilian football history, thusdeserving a place in the museum, there was no explanation (and only an awkward silence) about why the other part of the history such as the corruption scandals were not being told to the public.
The pictures show how Mr. Joāo Havelange and Mr. Ricardo Teixeira are being depicted through the Interactive and electronic panel of the session ‘A centenary legend’ in BNTM.
When omitting or ignoring critical moments from the past especially if they are broadly known by both fans and non-fans alike – as the corruption scandals was for Brazilians – are a way to jeopardize the legitimacy of the site as a repository of a sport’s past. It can be said too that is a way to not harm the public image of the sponsors that contribute to the maintenance of the CBF’s private museum. In this sense the BNTM through its fourth display reflects much about what the most important institution of football in Brazil defends as its values.Regardless of the current discourse that portrays a “new” CBF, based on transparency through compliance methods, nothing indicates that CBF no longer will continue displaying convicted former directors as role models for sporting success within its museum. The election of Rogério Caboclo, former CBF Executive Director, as the new President of the sports entity, helps us to conclude in such a direction, mostly if we take in account that according to Brazilian football press, he was an indication of Mr. Del Nero.
In the next post, in addition to showing how CBF is managing the discourse of the practice of football and the National Team as Brazil’s Cultural Heritage through its museum displays, more details about the other sessions available to visit in this one-hour tour will be provided.
Additional Note: On September 29, 2018, the author’s father went to BNTM museum and confirmed that all those former CBF presidents, especially, Mr. Jose Maria Marin and Mr. Marco Polo del Nero, are still being displayed without any mark of corruption. In fact, Mr. Marco Polo del Nero even though is currently banned for all football activities is still presented as the CBF President.
FELIPE BERTAZZO TOBAR is a doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department at Clemson University. His interests lie in critical studies of heritage, with a particular interest in sport heritage. He received his bachelor’s degree in Law (2014) and obtained a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and Society (2017) from the Univille University, in the city of Joinville, Brazil.