During his playing days, the Brazilian striker Romário was one of the most famous footballers in the world. He played for three of Brazil’s top clubs in Rio de Janeiro, as well as Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven. He won the World Cup and scored over one-thousand goals throughout his career. After this successful career, Romário entered politics, first as a deputy in the city of Rio and later as a senator in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Romário’s electoral success is not simply down to his footballing ability, nor the popularity of the sport in Brazil. Sports stardom, celebrity and celebrity politicians are also engaging with complex cultural processes. He has traded on his footballing stardom, but he also connects with his electorate through specific policy campaigns that resonate particularly well with his Brazilian voters. More importantly, he uses football and his footballer career as a metaphor for the wider problems facing Brazilian society. Drawing on literature from Sports Stardom, Celebrity and Celebrity Politicians, this paper charts the political career of Romário within the socio-political context of Brazil and argues that celebrity politicians still need to engage with their audiences regardless of their previous careers.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2015
- School of Sport and Service Management - Principal Research Fellow
- Centre for Arts and Wellbeing
- Cities, Injustice and Resistance Research and Enterprise Group
- Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics
- Centre of Resilience for Social Justice
- Sport and Leisure Cultures Research and Enterprise Group