Sports

The part-time Brazilian team that sold out the Santiago Bernabéu

In 1958, a football team billed as the "champions of Brazil" played a glamorous tour in Europe — but the lowly Bela Vista had won anything

bernabéu bela vista real madrid
Bela Vista’s official photo before boarding ahead of the team’s tour in Europe. Photo: Luciano Duarte Mansur/CC BY-SA 4.0

Brazil’s triumph at the football World Cup in 1958 was immediately ranked among the country’s greatest achievements up to that point. Beyond elevating Brazil to the top table of international football, it provided a significant boost of self-esteem for the entire country. In the words of famous playwright Nelson Rodrigues, the World Cup win ended Brazil’s “stray dog complex,” serving as a much-needed pick-me-up after losing the tournament at home in 1950.

But very few people were able to watch the 1958 World Cup on television. Supporters listened to the matches on the radio, waiting days before being...

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