The Beautiful Game

Last updated

The Beautiful Game (Portuguese : o jogo bonito) is a nickname for association football, popular within media and advertising. It was popularised by the Brazilian professional footballer Pelé. Although the exact origin of the phrase is disputed, football commentator Stuart Hall used it in 1958. Hall admired Peter Doherty when he went to see Manchester City play at Maine Road and used the term "The Beautiful Game" to describe Doherty's style when playing. [1]



The exact origins of the term are disputed. The origin has been attributed to Brazilian footballer Waldyr "Didi" Pereira, [2] and the presenter Stuart Hall claimed to have originated it in 1958. [2] [3] The English author and football fanatic H. E. Bates used the term earlier, including in a 1952 newspaper piece extolling the virtues of the game entitled "Brains in the Feet". [4]

Earlier writers used the term in 1848 to describe the game of baaga'adowe , a forerunner of lacrosse as played by Ojibwe at Vauxhall Gardens in London, [5] and to tennis in 1890. [6]


Pele Pele Mar del Plata 1965.PNG

Brazilian footballer Pelé is credited with making the phrase synonymous with football. [7] [8] In 1977, he named his autobiography My Life and the Beautiful Game. The book's dedication reads "I dedicate this book to all the people who have made this great game the Beautiful Game." [9] The phrase has entered the language as a description for football. [7]

The nickname serves as the name of the 1996 album The Beautiful Game . Featuring football anthems such as “Three Lions”, the music writer John Harris states that the album captures how the build-up to UEFA Euro 1996 "caught the imagination of the UK's musicians.” [10]

It is referenced in the title of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2000 musical The Beautiful Game . It is used as a title for the 13-part 2002 series charting the history of the game: History of Football: The Beautiful Game, narrated by the actor Terence Stamp. [11]

The song “Wavin' Flag” – rapper K'naan‘s Coca-Cola promotional anthem for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – contained the lyric “let’s rejoice in the Beautiful Game.” [12]

In January 2014, New Model Army released a song called The Beautiful Game in support of the project "Spirit of Football". [13] A football podcast was released with the title "The Beautiful Game". [14]

Terms used

Sportswear company Nike has referenced the beautiful game in its football commercials. In 1996, a Nike commercial titled "Good vs Evil" was a gladiatorial game set in a Roman amphitheatre where ten football players from around the world, including Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert and Jorge Campos, defend "the beautiful game" against a team of demonic warriors, which culminates in Cantona receiving the ball from Ronaldo, pulling up his shirt collar, and delivering the final line, "Au Revoir", before striking the ball and destroying evil. [15]

Adidas Beau Jeu, French for "Beautiful Game" Adidas Beau Jeu.jpg
Adidas Beau Jeu, French for "Beautiful Game"

Nike also uses the Portuguese phrase Joga bonito—meaning "play beautifully", and not "beautiful game", which would be Jogo bonito—as one of its slogans for football products. [16] [17] Nike began using the slogan Joga bonito in a campaign preceding the 2006 FIFA World Cup in an attempt to curb players' behaviours on the pitch. In collaboration with, and promoted by, former international footballer Eric Cantona (who once karate-kicked a fan), Nike released a series of adverts to promote a game that is skillful and dignified, not riddled with theatrics and poor sportsmanship. [18]

Sportswear company Adidas named an official match ball of UEFA Euro 2016 Adidas Beau Jeu which translates to "The Beautiful Game" in English. [19]

Further reading

See also

Related Research Articles

Pelé Brazilian retired footballer

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE, known as Pelé, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a forward. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award. That same year, Pelé was elected Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. According to the IFFHS, Pelé is the most successful domestic league goal-scorer in football history scoring 650 goals in 694 League matches, and in total 1281 goals in 1363 games, which included unofficial friendlies and is a Guinness World Record. During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world.

Ronaldo (Brazilian footballer) Brazilian footballer

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Popularly dubbed El Fenomeno, he is widely considered one of the greatest football players of all time. In his prime, he was known for his dribbling at speed, feints, and clinical finishing. In the 1990s, Ronaldo starred at club level for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, and Inter Milan. His moves to Spain and Italy made him only the second player, after Diego Maradona, to break the world transfer record twice, all before his 21st birthday. By 23, he had scored over 200 goals for club and country. After almost three years of inactivity due to serious knee injuries and recuperation, Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2002, which was followed by spells at A.C. Milan and Corinthians.

The Brazil national football team represents Brazil in international men's association football. Brazil is administered by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), the governing body for football in Brazil. They have been a member of FIFA since 1923 and member of CONMEBOL since 1916.

Eric Cantona French actor and association football player

Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona is a French actor and former professional footballer. He played for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes and Leeds United before ending his career at Manchester United where he won four Premier League titles in five years and two League and FA Cup Doubles. He won the league championship in seven of his last eight full seasons as a professional. At international level, he played for the France national team.

Adidas German multinational corporation

Adidas AG is a multinational corporation, founded and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories. It is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and the second largest in the world, after Nike. It is the holding company for the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade golf company, 8.33% of the German football club Bayern Munich, and Runtastic, an Austrian fitness technology company. Adidas' revenue for 2018 was listed at €21.915 billion.

Edgar Davids Dutch association football player and manager

Edgar Steven Davids is a Dutch-Surinamese former professional footballer. After beginning his career with Ajax, winning several domestic and international titles, he subsequently played in Italy for Milan, and later enjoyed a successful spell with Juventus, before being loaned out to Barcelona in 2004. He went on to play for Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur before returning to Ajax. Having struggled with injuries for two years, Davids returned to competitive football during a brief spell with Crystal Palace before retiring at the age of 37. In 2012, he was appointed player-manager at the English League Two club Barnet. He resigned by mutual agreement as manager in January 2014. He was capped 74 times by the Netherlands at international level, scoring six goals, and represented his country at the FIFA World Cup (once) and the UEFA European Championship.

Roberto Carlos Brazilian footballer

Roberto Carlos da Silva Rocha, more commonly known simply as Roberto Carlos, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who now works as a football ambassador. He started his career in Brazil as a forward but spent most of his career as a left back and has been described as the "most offensive-minded left-back in the history of the game". Carlos is also widely considered one of the best left backs in history.

Ronaldinho Brazilian footballer

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and ambassador for Barcelona. He played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a forward or a winger. He played the bulk of his career at European clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and A.C. Milan as well as playing for the Brazilian national team. Often considered one of the best players of his generation and regarded by many as one of the greatest of all time, Ronaldinho won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d'Or. He was renowned for his technical skills and creativity; due to his agility, pace and dribbling ability, as well as his use of tricks, feints, overhead kicks, no-look passes and accuracy from free-kicks.

Rui Costa Portuguese footballer

Rui Manuel César CostaOIH is a Portuguese retired professional footballer.

Lilian Thuram French association football player

Ruddy Lilian Thuram-Ulien is a French retired professional football defender and the most capped player in the history of the France national team with 142 appearances between 1994 and 2008.

Jorge Campos Mexican footballer

Jorge Campos Navarrete is a retired Mexican footballer, who played as a goalkeeper and striker.

At the end of each FIFA World Cup final tournament, several awards are presented to the players and teams which have distinguished themselves in various aspects of the game. is an online retailer of authentic signed sports memorabilia based in Kentish Town, London. The website was launched in 1999 initially as the leading portal for the personal websites of the world’s top footballers. Since late 2008, it has sold merchandise and memorabilia signed by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Luis Suárez, Sergio Agüero, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, Pelé and Eric Cantona.

2002 FIFA World Cup Final

The 2002 FIFA World Cup Final was a football match that took place on 30 June 2002 at the International Stadium in Yokohama to determine the winner of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The final was contested by Germany and Brazil. It was the first World Cup meeting between the two sides. Brazil won the match 2–0, winning a record fifth title. Ronaldo, who became the record World Cup goalscorer at the 2006 tournament, scored two of his fifteen World Cup goals in the second half of the match, leading Brazil to the title and winning the Golden Boot award. It also marked Brazilian captain Cafu's third consecutive appearance in a World Cup Final, a feat that has yet to be accomplished by any other player in the history of the tournament. Both teams had won their respective groups before advancing to the knockout stage, where Germany shut out all of their opponents to reach the final, while Brazil only allowed a single goal from England. Germany overcame United States and co-host South Korea, while Brazil knocked out England and Turkey.

Wavin Flag 2009 single by Knaan

"Wavin' Flag" is a song by Somali-Canadian artist K'naan from his album Troubadour. The song was originally written for Somalia and aspirations of its people for freedom. The original single was a hit in Canada and reached #2 on the Canadian Hot 100 as the third official single from the album, after the singles "ABCs" and "Bang Bang", which were minor hits.

Santos FC and the Brazil national football team

Santos Futebol Clube is a Brazilian professional football club, based in Santos, Brazil. They play in the Campeonato Paulista, São Paulo's state league, and the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A or Brasileirão, Brazil's national league, and are one of the only five clubs to have never been relegated, along with São Paulo, Flamengo, Internacional and Cruzeiro. Santos was a founding member of the Clube dos 13 group of Brazil's leading football clubs.

Luís Figo Portuguese footballer

Luís Filipe Madeira Caeiro FigoOIH is a Portuguese retired professional footballer who played as a midfielder for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan before retiring on 31 May 2009. He won 127 caps for the Portugal national team, a record at the time but later broken by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Adidas Beau Jeu official match balls of the UEFA Euro 2016

The Adidas Beau Jeu is one of the official match balls of the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament. It was used for the group stage of the tournament, after which it was replaced by the Adidas Fracas for the knockout stage, marking the first time in the tournament's history that two styles of official ball were used. The French phrase "Beau Jeu" translates to "Beautiful Game" or "Beautiful Play".

Amphitheatre of El Jem Roman amphitheatre in El Jem, Tunisia

Amphitheatre of El Jem is an oval amphitheatre in the modern-day city of El Djem, Tunisia, formerly Thysdrus in the Roman province of Africa. It is listed by UNESCO since 1979 as a World Heritage Site.

Adidas Telstar 18 official match ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The Adidas Telstar 18 was the official match ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which was held in the Russian Federation. It is designed by the company Adidas in Sialkot, Pakistan. A FIFA Partner and FIFA World Cup official match ball supplier since 1970, and based on the concept of the first Adidas's World Cup match ball.


  1. Harper, Nick (2 May 2003). "Stuart Hall". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 April 2011. The player I fell in love with and who inspired me to coin the phrase "the beautiful game" was Peter Doherty, an inside forward, my first hero.
  2. 1 2 Moore, Brian (15 July 2010). "South Africa World Cup besmirched 'beautiful' game". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  3. Hall, S; Mayo, S: The Daily Mayo, 6 May 2009, BBC Radio 5 Live
  4. Bates, H. E. (16 November 1952). "The Sunday Times". p. 4.
  5. Catlin, George (1848). Notes of eight year's travels and residence in Europe... p. 119.
  6. Heathcote, John Moyer; Edward Oliver Pleydell-Bouverie; Arthur Campbell Ainger (1890). Tennis. p. 10.
  7. 1 2 "Pelé's journey from street urchin to soccer's greatest star hits the big screen". Fox News. Retrieved 31 May 2017
  8. "The World Cup will show why football is still a beautiful game". The Telegraph (12 June 2014).
  9. Pelé, Robert L. Fish, Shep Messing (2007). My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Pelé. p. v. ISBN   9781602391963.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock, John Harris (2003), p. 302
  11. Brown, David (2004). "God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience". p. 398. Oxford University Press
  12. ““Rapper K'Naan's Wavin' Flag in World Cup triumph”. BBC. Retrieved 17 October 2018
  13. "New Model Army's "Beautiful Game" « The Ball 2014". Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  14. "The Beautiful Game". The Beautiful Game. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014 via The Internet Archive.
  15. Jackson, Steven J. (10 November 2004). Sport, Culture and Advertising: Identities, Commodities and the Politics of Representation. Routledge. p. 186.
  16. Antony Young (2007). "Profitable Marketing Communications: A Guide to Marketing Return on Investment". p. 138. Kogan Page Publishers,
  17. Steve Hatch, Jim Taylor (2009). "Rigorous Magic: Communication Ideas and their Application". John Wiley & Sons,
  18. Kane, Pat (18 July 2006). "Let football eat itself". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  19. "Euro 2016: Adidas unveil 'Beau Jeu', the tournament's official match ball". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2017