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World Cup: Museum reveals national passion for football - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Brazil fans watch a live telecast of the Mexico vs. Brazil match on June 17, 2014.  (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Brazil fans watch a live telecast of the Mexico vs. Brazil match on June 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

São Paulo, Asharq Al-Awsat—At a time when Brazilians are eating, sleeping and breathing football, an outsider might wonder where all this passion for the sport comes from. They will find some answers in São Paulo’s Football Museum.

Located inside Paulo Machado de Carvalho stadium, widely known as Pacaembú, the museum exhibits images, video and audio testimonials, books and other interactive material that tell the story of football in Brazil.

Interactive panels show off the sporting greats, including Pelé, Garrincha, Romário, Roberto Carlos, Tostão and Ronaldinho Gaúcho.

Long before these stars lit up the field, a Brazilian man of Scottish-English descendent named Charles Miller was responsible for introducing football to the country—in 1895. It has been 120 years since the Brazilians played their first organized game of football. The first professional Brazilian team, the São Paulo Athletic Club, was also founded with Miller’s help.

The museum shows visitors what life was like for much of Brazilian society when Miller decided to show them how to kick a ball around a field. In a room dedicated to the period, the walls are covered in old black-and-white photographs, mainly of scenes and personalities from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Since then, football has become part of Brazilians’ identity.

“I’m delighted, because this is not something that is shown on TV,” said Karlos Tapia, an American football coach who was visiting the museum. “Watching the competition, being in Brazil during the World Cup and coming to the museum is a combination of passions. It couldn’t be better,” he said.

While browsing the galleries, Said Guillen, a Mexican marketing professional, said: “The things you see here move you . . . It makes you understand why people are so passionate.”

The exhibition does not ignore the low points: the so-called “Maracanazo,” when Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro.