Arthur Friedenreich:Breaking the color barrier


The sport of football broke its color barrier very early,however one of the most intriguing stories of breaking the color barrier in football comes from Brazil.In the beginning of the 20th Century football in Brazil was dominated by Whites and Blacks were not accepted as players in Brazilian clubs.However that barrier break one man.Born on the 18th of July 1892 in Sao Paulo in German-Brazilian family(his father Oscar was German immigrant,while his mother Mathilde was a daughter of freed Black slaves),Arthur Friendenreich went to break the racial barrier in Brazilian football.Friedenreich was known as El Tigre and in his heyday became Brazil’s first football superstar.In 1909,at the age of 17 he joined SC Germania since his father was German and membership in other clubs was restricted to Whites.From the beginning of his playing career Friendenreich won many admirers and displayed great talent on the field.In 1912 he joid Mackenzie College and in his 1st season with them he became the topscorer of the Campeonato Paulista (Sao Paulo League) with 12 goals,he will become the topscorer of the Campeonato Paulista 9 more times (1914,1917,1918,1919,1921,1927 and 1929) with two different clubs (Yparanga and Paulistano).Also in 1914 he made a debut for the Brazilian national team in a friendly match against Exeter City which was also Brazil’s first international match and interestingly they won 2-0.But Fridedenreich’s popularity exploded when he scored the winning goal in the final of the 1919 Copa America against Uruguay and that began the pinnacle of his career.After the match Friedenreich became a celebrity in Brazil and the country’s 1st football superstar,probably in the world.While his club Paulistano was invited to play friendly matches all across South America so the crowds could see Friedenreich and in 1927 Paulistano became the 1st Brazilian club to tour European countries,however in that time Friedenreich was 35 years old and his career was approaching to an end.Meanwhile in 1921 he was on the hight of his powers and Brazil was preparing for the next Copa America which was held in Argentina,however the President of Brazil Epitacio Pessoa was worried that Black players would bring shame to the country’s national team issued a decree that only White players would represent Brazil at the 1921 Copa America,that infuriated the whole Brazilian public and planted the seeds to end racial discrimination in football.Friedenreich was absent from the squad and Brazil ended the tournament 2nd while the hosts Argentina won the Copa America on their own soil.In the same year besides he was absent from the national team,Friedenreich scored a record of 33 goals in the Campeonato Paulista with Paulistano.That will alomost repeat in 1928 when he scored 29 goals which was his last best season.Arthur Friedenreich played his last season in 1935 at the age 43 for Flamengo and his honors as a player are impressive:9 times topscorer of the Campeonato Paulista,7 time champion of the Campeonato Paulista with 2 different clubs (Sao Paulo and Paulistano) and won the Copa America twice with Brazil (1919 and 1922).Arthur Friendenreich passed away on the 6th of September 1969 at the age of 77,a year before Pele would lift the 3rd World Cup title for Brazil in the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.Besides that he never played in a FIFA World Cup,Friendenreich was trailblazer and a pioneer who broke the color barrier in football long before Jackie Robinson would do in baseball or Willie O’Ree in Ice Hockey.With him breaking the color barrier football in Brazil and across the world was never the same again.


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