Sport Is Better Than War

On Sunday 7/13, the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro/RJ received Heads of State, government officials, and tens of thousands of fans for the closing ceremony of the Soccer World Cup. In the final match, a disciplined German team emerged victorious over struggling Argentina, consecrating themselves as four-time champions. Congratulations to all the countries that graced the 2014 World Cup in Brazil!

It was with great satisfaction that we hosted this beautiful sports festival for the second time, bringing together people from various cultures and points of the planet.

According to BBC Brazil, "the emotion with which Brazilians sang the anthem at the opening of every game, broadcast by television networks worldwide, won over the hearts of foreigners inside and outside the country." Truly enthusiastic, millions of voices opened to the skies during the games our country played, proudly singing the verses by Joaquim Osório Duque Estrada (1870-1927): "Oh land we adore, / Among a thousand others / You are the beloved one./ You are the gentle mother of the sons of this land,/ Beloved Homeland, / Brazil."

Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil

Our greetings of peace to the organizers; athletes; those who watched in person or via the media; workers, from the simplest to the most important; volunteers; in short, to the many people who were part of the structure behind this mega event.

The success obtained will be greater to the extent that the competent authorities and society—in a serious evaluation of the successes and failures identified before, during and after the championship—really assimilate the lessons that a sports event of this magnitude can bring to a nation. Making the best use or not of this experience will depend on all of us.

On the occasion of the Mexico World Cup in 1986, I wrote an article entitled "Sport is better than war". I still hold this conclusion. I would like to share some excerpts with you today:

Arquivo LBV

Apparício Torelly

When Alziro Zarur (1914-1979) launched the Soccer of Charity at the LGW, it was not immediately understood. He suffered much criticism. However, over time, everyone came to understand the merits of his position. Journalist Apparício Torelly, late Baron of Itararé (1895-1971), enthusiastically wrote after examining the idea and its important results in support of people assisted by the Legion of Good Will: "This program is a clear demonstration of the accomplishing capacity of the Brazilian people."

The masses love sports, an extraordinary energy, a force from people that should be used in favor of themselves, and not only in battles or on the basis of "panem et circenses."

Soccer has a huge tremendous ability to unite human beings, both nationally and internationally. . . . It has more charisma than the shameful and old hatreds that should be expelled from the Earth. One day creatures will have to resolve "their differences" on higher planes where they cannot kill their fellow beings, creating millions of widows and orphans. It may take a thousand years, but it will happen. It will not delay. . . Just read the Apocalypse of Jesus, the Ecumenical Christ, the Divine Statesman, to understand.

Sport is better than war.

José de Paiva Netto is a writer, journalist, radio broadcaster, composer, and poet. He is the President of the Legion of Good Will (LGW), effective member of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and of the Brazilian International Press Association (ABI-Inter). Affiliated to the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Writers of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Radio Broadcasters of Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Union of Composers (UBC). He is also a member of the Academy of Letters of Central Brazil. He is an author of international reference in the concept and defense of the cause of Ecumenical Citizenship and Spirituality which, according to him, constitute “the cradle of the most generous values that are born of the Soul, the dwelling of the emotions and of the reasoning enlightened by intuition, the atmosphere that embraces everything that transcends the ordinary field of matter and comes from the elevated human sensitivity, such as Truth, Justice, Mercy, Ethics, Honesty, Generosity, and Fraternal Love.”