Reinaldo, ex-jogador
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Reinaldo, the revolutionary soccer player

The elevator door opened and I stared an unmistakable face, despite the signs of the time: it was Reinaldo, Atlético Mineiro’s big number 9 soccer player in the 1970s and 1980s and the Brazilian National team’s striker at the 1978 World Cup.

It was on January 16, 2019. I was arriving for my TV show and Reinado had just participated in another, sporting one, held in the same studio.

It was a quick meeting. I warned the ace:

Vacinação combina com doação

– I’m going to have to tiet you!

When it came time to pose for the photo, Reinaldo stretched his arm up, with a clenched fist – just like he did after his goal in the last minute of the match against Sweden, in the World Cup in 78. It was a revolutionary act, inspired by the gesture of the Black Panthers who protested against racism in the 1968 Olympics, as it meant a protest to the military dictatorship that prevailed in Brazil at that time.

It was a courageous act, as Reinaldo was already making the gesture to celebrate his goals at Atlético Mineiro (also protesting against the military regime) and, before the Brazilian delegation embarked for Argentina, he was warned by the President of the Republic, Ernesto Geisel, in a ceremony in Brasilia.

– He told me “go play soccer, let us do politics”

But at the moment of the goal, Reinaldo could not stand it. He stretched his arm upward with a clenched fist. And he told me, to leave no doubt:

– It was a socialist gesture!

Reinaldo in the 78 Cup

The attitude had great repercussions. But the boldness was expensive. In addition to his knee injuries, Reinaldo also suffered from a smear campaign (he was said to be a communist, gay and drug addict) that took him out of the next World Cup (in 1982 in Spain) and ended his career prematurely.

When he said goodbye, he left the message:

– That’s it, fellow! The fight goes on!

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