In 1980 during the military dictatorship in Brazil, the hugely popular Socrates, the captain of the Selecao and of Corinthians, used football to promote democracy while scoring goals.

Popularly known as “The Doctor”, Socrates was a brilliant player, an intelligent revolutionary and a hero who stood up for what was right.

We'd all like to change the world. It's only human. And when you get millions on their feet just by scoring a goal, you suddenly think you can do it. After that, you need ideas, courage, social and political awareness ... Doctor Socrates ... rest in peace.

-Eric Cantona, former Manchester United star 

With the help of his fellow teammates, “The Doctor” transformed every match into a political statement.

His support for democracy helped a country under authoritarian rule to remember that the people too could have a voice.

He said: "We started discussing things and it created a really convivial atmosphere. Each of us started giving his opinion and expressing his feelings ... Basically our aim was to democratise expression.

"Our group worked in the football world and we decided to vote ... on everything. Everything needed to be discussed ...

"Compare it with what happens in society. You take several unhappy couples and in with them you put a really happy couple who are in love. It contaminates the whole group. That's how it was with us."


About the series:

As the global sporting world faces one corruption scandal after another, former Manchester United star Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. Football Rebels looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines. 

Source: Al Jazeera