From Pelé to Lula: How to heal Brazil's divisions?

Sometimes a single person really can change the world. Pelé not only captured the planet's heart with his Midas touch, he also made football the world’s top spectator sport, acting as the graceful ambassador for the beautiful game. The king also put Brazil on the map. As a nation mourns, we ask about the Black shoeshine boy from the favelas who made a point – like the recently departed Queen Elizabeth II – of staying out of his country’s politics, both through dictatorship and democracy.

We ask about the Pelé years, but also the Lula years. When Brazil’s left-wing president first came to power 20 years ago, it was billed as a coming-of-age moment for Brazil, but that was before a commodities boom went bust, corruption scandals and the rise of the far right.

On his first full day back in office, we ask whether Brazil does second acts and who of Lula or Pelé best defines their nation at the outset of a new term and a new year.

Produced by Charles Wente, Marion Lory and Imen Mellaz.


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