When you think of some of the world’s greatest national football teams, Brazil, England, Germany, France and Argentina probably spring to mind, and when you think of popular British football teams, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are sure to be among them.
But have you also thought of Exeter City? Not many people have heard of this little team from Devonshire. In fact, this tiny team played a crucial role in bringing football to one of the most football-crazy countries in the world.
Here’s the story of Exeter, football and Brazil!
Exeter and Brazil
In July 1914, Exeter City travelled through South America as part of their tour of Brazil. They then accepted an invitation from Argentina to play a series of friendly matches against local South American teams who were keen to compete with this British team. Exeter was only founded in 1904, so it was an incredible opportunity for them to gain worldwide exposure.
The Exeter City team arrived by boat in Rio de Janeiro, but quickly travelled on to Argentina where they played eight matches against local teams. They then travelled back to Brazil to play teams in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
In the end, the Brazilians decided to form one team out of the two that were to face Exeter in order to be competitive. They selected their best players from both cities and so the first Brazilian football team was formed. They called the team Seleção (Portuguese for “selection”), and this term is still the nickname for the Brazilian national football team today!
This memorable match took place on 12 July 1914 in Rio de Janeiro in front of up to 10,000 enthusiastic spectators. The Brazilian team won 2-0 and the victorious players were hailed as national heroes – the start of the great football fever throughout the country!
It was a long journey back to the UK for Exeter – and they were returning to a country that had just entered the First World War. Most of the team took to the trenches to fight other battles.
Exactly 100 years later, in 2014, a commemorative match took place in Rio de Janeiro. Exeter City FC played against the Brazilian U23 team with the original ball from 1914! Some Devon fans also travelled all the way to Brazil to witness this momentous occasion. The game ended in a fair goalless draw.
Whilst ‘that time we played Brazil’ has become an oft-discussed topic amongst Exeter City fans, this anecdote is not known by anyone outside of the club’s fanbase.
2014 was a momentous occasion for both sides. For Brazil it was the anniversary of the birth of club and football fever in the country, and for Exeter it was a continuation of “that really cool story” from the time they played Brazil.
The special values of Exeter City
Take a look at Exeter City – they recently joined the Safer Gambling Week campaign. They’re serious about a choice they made a few years back: no sponsorships from companies pushing gambling or betting. It’s a bit different from some other football clubs. The idea behind this is to keep their fans from getting into gambling problems. They want Exeter City’s stadium and media to be places where gambling isn’t encouraged.
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Exeter City is also loud about standing against racism in football. Before each game, their players take a knee to support the Black Lives Matter campaign. They even have a part on their website talking about saying ‘no’ to racism around the world.
But that’s not all that makes Exeter City FC different from other English clubs. Most football clubs are owned privately, but Exeter City is owned by its own fans. Fans pay a small fee to be a part of this. It gives them a say in how the team is managed, in making sure things are fair, deciding on player contracts, and how the team is shown in the media. It’s like everyone in the fan club has a voice and a role in the team’s journey.
Even though Exeter City never achieved great success after their friendly against Brazil, this event is deeply rooted in their own history and fills all Exeter citizens with great pride. However, there are many other reasons to be proud of this local Devonshire team. One of them is their commitment to equality and the common good. The match they played against Brazil is one of the most curious stories in world football, but Exeter’s reputation as a caring football club still shines today.
Exeter City in the present day
Today, Exeter City play in League One but still have a loyal fan base across Devon and the West Country who regularly travel to their away games.
They were promoted to this division last season and now compete with other traditional English teams such as Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers, Derby County and Ipswich Town.
A highlight for Exeter City fans in recent years has been the match against Manchester United. In 2005, they played the multiple English champions at Old Trafford and managed a 0-0 draw, and in 2016 they drew 2-2 with Liverpool FC at St James’ Park, although the team subsequently lost 3-0 on the away leg.
Exeter City may not have the glitz and glamour of many other football teams in the UK, but the team has a great connection with its fans, is involved in many community projects and supports various social causes.
So, let’s finish the story of Exeter City and their cool impact on football in Brazil. Even though they’re not as famous as big football teams, Exeter City did something really special back in 1914 that changed football history.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, they played a friendly match, and it was a big deal. It started Brazil’s love for football, and even after 100 years, people still talk about it. This match made a connection between Exeter City and Brazil that’s pretty awesome.
But Exeter City isn’t just about that one match. They do things a bit differently. They care about being responsible when it comes to gaming, and they stand up against racism. Plus, unlike most teams, Exeter City is owned by its own fans. People pay a bit to be part of the team, and they get to have a say in how things are run.
Nowadays, Exeter City plays in League One. They might not have all the fancy stuff like some big teams, but they have a special connection with their fans. They do good things in their community and support important causes.
So, Exeter City’s story is more than just football games. It’s about a small team that made a big mark on football history and keeps doing good things today. That’s what makes them special in the world of football.