Our Reference Librarian, Owen Grey, writes:
With Brazil hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950, what better time to look at just how Brazilians became addicted to their most popular sport…
We can go down the boring route of looking at socio-economic and cultural reasons, height of the Empire political reasons, British naval power in the late 19th and early 20th century… but why do this when we can read into the legend of Englishman Charles William Miller?
(Image from Southampton’s Daily Echo)
Firstly, though, let’s not call him English: his father was from Scotland, his mother was from Brazil and he was himself born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1874 (140 years before this world cup). Nevertheless, he did go to the home of association football in 1884: he was educated in Southampton and fell in love with football (and other team games), and as every Southampton fan knows, he played for them when they were called St. Mary’s.
And he returned to Brazil in 1894 with a passion for the beautiful game and two footballs- and the rest, as they say, is history. Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the whole story for you, so why not finish reading about it on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: www.oxforddnb.com?
So there’s my argument about how England handed Brazil the World Cup! Would the Brazilians have had the same passion and enthusiasm for football (which has earned them the trophy and the honour of hosting the tournament on two occasions!) if Mr Miller had not stepped off the quay at Santos with footballing passion in his heart and two footballs in his arms?
We will never know for sure (although I think they probably could’ve got hold of the footballs) but the story is definitely intriguing- let’s hope it will inspire the England team to do better in the next game…