Five years after his death, Brazilian soccer legend Sócrates has inspired a new ‘football and democracy’ programme in Co Louth.
Best known to soccer fans the world over as captain of the Brazil side in Spain ’82, and the inspiration for the immortal squad of Mexico ’86, Sócrates came to represent much more than a cultured midfielder to his native people.
A qualified medical doctor off the pitch and a strong opponent of the military government that ruled Brazil for over 20 years, Sócrates – along with club teammate Wladimir – established the Corinthians Football Club Democracy Movement in the early 1980s that would become a powerful symbol against the junta and a vehicle to spread their message of the power of democracy.
With the full backing of club president, Sócrates and his colleagues took control of Corinthians and established a fully democratic approach to all team issues.
“Everyone at the club had the same right to vote – the person who looked after the kit and the club president, all their votes had the same weight,” Sócrates said at the time.
With such a large fan base, transferring the ‘football and democracy’ concept was as smooth an operation as his silken skills in midfield.
Soon the players from Corinthians were wearing their club shirts emblazened with the word ‘democracy’ over the numbers on their backs. The impact of such ‘on the pitch’ actions was immense, and with Sócrates speaking at major rallies for democracy, people signed up to the electoral registers and eventually voted out the dictatorship.
Taking its cues from that movement, the Sócrates Football and Democracy – or F4D – campaign team is designed to engage people from ethnic minority and migrant backgrounds in the democratic process ahead of the General Election.
Residents of Ardee, Dundalk and Drogheda will be invited to participate in a series of events and meetings connecting politics with the ‘beautiful game’.
In partnership with the Louth Minority Ethnic Consortium and part-funded by the Community Foundation of Ireland, the pilot programme is expected to deliver a strong message that migrants matter, as do people of diverse ethnicity, including members of the Traveller community, when it comes to the political arena.
As part of the F4D campaign, which can count Corinthians fans in Dublin among its supporters, election candidates will be asked to sign the European Network Against Racism anti-discrimination election protocol.
And the Sari team, led by programme co-ordinator Tosin Omiyale, will be on the streets with freestyle soccer and penalty shootouts through the month of February.
After the election, successful candidates will be invited to meet the public for a feedback session to explain their strategy on the creation of a more diverse society free of hatred and discrimination.
For further information, contact Tosin Omiyale at
email@example.com or visit sari.ie.