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Playing the Hardline

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David Goldblatt explores the history of Brazil through its passion for football. 3: Playing the Hardline.

The Junta that came to power in 1964 purged Congress & the senior civil service. Political parties were dissolved. At first football's only place on the government's agenda was as a source of unpaid taxes. Yet by 1969, when the Junta's presidential successor General Costa e Silva, was dying of a stroke, the highest circles in government were pondering if they should announce his illness prior to Brazil's last qualifying game for the 1970 World Cup.

Afraid how the news would affect the political mood of the crowd and the performance of the team. By then the dictatorship had faced an outbreak of protest and responded with a massive backlash. Censorship of the media was intensified. The security services arrested and tortured thousands of opponents. Congress was effectively closed down. The legitimacy of the regime came to rest on supercharged economic growth and a grandiose nationalism that relied on football for its successes.

Producer: Mark Burman.

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15 minutes

Last on

Wed 28 May 2014 13:45
BBC Radio 4 FM only

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