The FIFA World Football Museum has been given exclusive access to an unpublished memoir written by journalist Kátia Bagnarelli, the widow of former Seleção captain Sócrates. The book Jogo, Ciência, Drogas e Aculturação (“Game, Science, Drugs and Acculturation”), includes first-person accounts from the mercurial midfielder, including the story behind one of Sócrates’ most famous headbands – now on show in the museum’s exhibition, “Brazil 2014 Revisited”.
A football icon in his time, Sócrates was known for his elegant style of play, his long curly locks and his shaggy beard. Blind back-heeled passes became something of a trademark – as did his penchant for headbands with social messages. After captaining Brazil at the 1982 World Cup, he donned the famous yellow shirt again at the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
As the Brazilian players lined up for the national anthems ahead of their opening match against Spain, Sócrates attracted much of the attention with a large headband bearing the words México sigue en pie – Mexico still stands. It was a simple and yet powerful message to the World Cup host country, which had suffered after an earthquake struck its capital in 1985. Throughout the tournament, Sócrates would deliver other messages on his headbands, such as “Need justice”, “No terror” and “No violence”.
Perhaps a little surprisingly, it turns out that the headband Sócrates wore in that first game against Spain was improvised, and was created using one of the Brazil squad’s socks! This is hard to spot at first glance, but it becomes clearer when the headband is looked at in more detail – as visitors to the FIFA World Football Museum’s exhibition can attest to.
Not only did the mercurial midfielder make an impression ahead of that game against Spain on 1 June 1986, but he had an impact during it as well. His headed goal in the 62nd minute was the only goal of the game and enough to see Tele Santana's team claim victory.
Sócrates’ widow Kátia Bagnarelli loaned the object to the museum as a courtesy after staff visited her in Brazil as part of our research for “Brazil 2014 Revisited”. She was also kind enough to share an excerpt from the memoir that she is planning to publish and launch next year. The book Jogo, Ciência, Drogas e Aculuração contains first-person stories that her legendary husband told Kátia before his death in 2011.
Below is the exclusive story behind that first headband, how it came about and why it may have been overshadowed – as told by Dr Sócrates Brasileiro himself: