The Beautiful Game

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The Beautiful Game (Portuguese : o jogo bonito) is a nickname for association football, popular within media and advertising though rarely used by fans, which 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]

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. Reintegrationists maintain that Galician is not a separate language, but a dialect of Portuguese. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Pelé Brazilian retired footballer

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a forward. He is regarded by many in the sport, including football writers, players, and fans, as the greatest player 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.



The exact origins of the term are disputed. The origin has been attributed to Brazilian footballer Waldyr Pereira (Didi), [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]

Didi (footballer) Brazilian footballer and manager

Waldyr Pereira, nicknamed Didi, was a Brazilian footballer who played as a midfielder or as a forward. He played in three FIFA World Cups, winning the latter two and was awarded the Golden Ball, given to the tournament's best player, for his performance at the 1958 competition.

Stuart Hall (presenter) British radio and television presenter

James Stuart Hall, Jr. is an English former radio and television presenter. He presented regional news programmes for the BBC in North West England in the 1960s and 1970s, while becoming known nationally for presenting It's a Knockout and Jeux Sans Frontières. His later career mainly involved football reporting on BBC radio.

H. E. Bates British writer

Herbert Ernest Bates, better known as H. E. Bates, was an English writer and author. His best-known works include Love for Lydia, The Darling Buds of May, and My Uncle Silas.

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]

Lacrosse team sport

Lacrosse is a team sport played with a lacrosse stick and a lacrosse ball. Players use the head of the lacrosse stick to carry, pass, catch, and shoot the ball into the goal.

Ojibwe group of indigenous peoples in North America

The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people of Canada and the United States. They are one of the most numerous indigenous peoples north of the Rio Grande. In Canada, they are the second-largest First Nations population, surpassed only by the Cree. In the United States, they have the fifth-largest population among Native American peoples, surpassed in number only by the Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw and Sioux.

Vauxhall Gardens former garden on the south bank of the river Thames in London, UK

Vauxhall Gardens was a pleasure garden in Kennington on the south bank of the River Thames and accessed by boat from London until the erection of Vauxhall Bridge in the 1810s. The wider area was absorbed into the metropolis as the city expanded in the early to mid-19th century.


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]

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. [10]

Terence Stamp British actor

Terence Henry Stamp is an English actor. After training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London he started his acting career in 1962. He has appeared in more than 60 films. His performance in the title role of Billy Budd, his film debut, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a BAFTA nomination for Best Newcomer. Associated with the swinging London scene of the 1960s, Stamp was among the subjects photographed by David Bailey for a set titled Box of Pin-Ups.

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.” [11]

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.

Knaan Somali-Canadian musician

Keinan Abdi Warsame, better known by his stage name K'naan, is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. He rose to prominence with the success of his single "Wavin' Flag", which was chosen as Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Besides hip-hop, K'naan's sound is influenced by elements of Somali music and world music. He is also involved in various philanthropic initiatives.

Coca-Cola Carbonated soft drink

Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.

In January 2014, New Model Army released a song called The Beautiful Game in support of the project "Spirit of Football". [12] A football podcast was released with the title "The Beautiful Game". [13]

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. [14]

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. [15] [16] 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. [17]

Sportswear company Adidas named an official match ball of UEFA Euro 2016 Adidas Beau Jeu which translates to "The Beautiful Game" in English. [18]

Further reading

See also

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  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.
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  8. "The World Cup will show why football is still a beautiful game" (12 June 2014). The Telegraph.
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