From today's NYT article on Brazilian football:
Familiarity with soccer begins early, producing a bottomless pool of talent. By age 3, a boy has probably learned how to dribble the ball, and by 7 he is playing the informal sandlot version of the game with his pals in any open space they can find — a clearing in the jungle, an empty lot in a large city, a pasture or on the beach — and maybe sleeping with the ball, if he is fortunate enough to afford one.
Despite the considerable economic advances it has made over the last generation, Brazil is still a country with millions of poor among its 185 million people. And it is the poor who have traditionally seen success in soccer as their fastest ticket to prosperity and prestige.
Of the 23 players on the national squad competing in Germany this month, only three come from a background that would be considered middle class here. Most of the players, whether they were born in cities or in the countryside, come from families that are humble, the preferred term for poverty here.