Cafu, Brazil’s former football captain, known in his playing days as “The Commuter Train” for his constant motion, is sitting on a sofa in a Knightsbridge hotel. Gone are the days when the full-back won two world cups. Now aged 42, he spends much of his time running his Fundacao Cafu, his foundation for social inclusion.
Cafu is in London to see Brazil’s men’s football team seek their first Olympic gold in the final against Mexico at Wembley (more of that later). But he also just wants to see an Olympics for the first time in his life, partly because Brazil’s turn at hosting is next: first the football world cup of 2014, then the Rio Olympics of 2016. Read more
A story reaches me from the excellent Swedish journalist Mattias Göransson, editor of Filter magazine, about his feisty compatriot Pia Sundhage.
On Thursday Sundhage coached the US women’s soccer team to gold against Japan at a packed Wembley stadium. What’s interesting is what comes next.
After the US team won gold at the last Olympics, in Beijing in 2008, Sundhage refused to join her players in meeting President George Bush in the White House. At the time, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reminded its readers of what Sundhage had said when she got the US job in 2007: “It’s a bit special for an old communist like me to go to the US.” Read more
Exactly one year on from the London riots, the UK is embracing two multicultural heroes: the Somali-born Mo Farah who won the men’s 10,000 metres on Saturday, and Jessica Ennis, queen of the heptathlon whose father is a painter and decorator originally from Jamaica. Already Farah and Ennis are being called role models. In a perfect world, their gold medals would change views about black and mixed race Britons. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen.
On the face of it, Farah seems the perfect figure to challenge racist stereotypes about black British youths, and to offer those youths someone to emulate. In origin, he resembles many of the young black men from poor backgrounds who were disproportionately represented among the rioters. Farah – who came to Britain aged eight, was raised in tough Feltham, got into fights at school, and once jumped naked from a bridge into the river Thames after a night out – might have been one of them had life turned out differently. Instead he discovered discipline and running.
Sadly, his success and Ennis’s will probably serve only to confirm racist views of black people. The black person as athlete (or musician) is itself a longstanding racial stereotype. The Nazis dismissed the triumphs of the black American Jesse Owens at the Berlin Games of 1936 by saying he had animalistic physical gifts. Countless black athletes have succeeded since Owens. Their triumphs do not change stereotypes. Read more
David Cameron (CL) and Francois Hollande (CR) at the women's preliminaries Group B handball match France vs Spain on July 30, 2012 (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/GettyImages)
Perhaps it was David Cameron’s Olympic dream to watch France vs Spain in the women’s handball. Read more