The physical agility and unexpected “fakes” lauded by Brazilian commentators were descended directly from manifestations within popular music and folklore, whether the sway of the hips originating in carnival, the sinuous steps samba brought into being, or the dodges and feints that came from capoeira. In this way, the legitimacy of soccer in Brazilian culture supported itself on an already established element of national identity: astuteness and improvisation. Music gave soccer what modernist intellectuals had detected in it in the 1920s: namely, the criteria and the sources of brasilidade. The link between music and sports, however, was not an isolated fact restricted to Brazil. Anthropologist Eduardo P. Archetti, in his recent book Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina (1999), shows that an analogous process of nationalization of foreign sports by way of music occurred in other Latin American countries. In Cuba, baseball, imported from the United States, was incorporated into the discourse of nationality through its adaptation to the typical Cuban music style: salsa. In Argentina, national identity was linked to soccer through an association with the tango.
Bernardo Borges Buarque de Hollanda, In Praise of Improvisation in Brazilian Soccer: Modernism, Popular Music, and a Brasilidade of Sports