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Sport Club Corinthians PaulistaCorinthians' Democracy


The Corinthians' Democracy was an ideological movement spanning a period from 1982 to 1984. It was an innovative way to manage a club, in fact unique, and there is nothing else like this in the history of football. It is recognised in Brazil as one of the most important actions in opposition to the then-ruling military government. Not only an idealistic but effective political cell which fought against the authoritarian way the club's management controlled its players, but a microcosm of the way the country was governed by the military.

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira (or Sócrates for short), was a visionary Brazilian playmaker, Sócrates played 60 times for his country, and in doing so became one of Brazil’s most celebrated attacking players. Captaining Brazil in the 1982 World Cup, perhaps the greatest team never to win the competition, he scored two incredible goals.

His political-intellectual aspirations not only saw him graduate with both a degree in philosophy and become a doctor of medicine, but also co-found the Corinthians Democracy movement, intended to challenge Brazil’s military dictatorship of the day. Together with teammates Wladimir  and Casagrande, he organised the players to discuss and then vote with a simple show of hands on all matters which affected them, from simple things like 'what time they would eat lunch', to challenging the dreaded concentracão, a common practice in Brazil where players are practically locked up in a hotel for one or two days before a game. In 1982, one of the most notable decisions they made was having 'Vote on 15th' printed on the back of their shirts, to motivate fans to vote in the first Brazilian multiparty election since the 1964 military coup in Brazil.

The protest led by Socrates during his time at Corinthians widened beyond the game of football and coincided with Brazil's fight to overturn a military regime in the 1980s. Making the club a democracy was a very obvious stand to (make a parallel?) with the government situation.

During this period, Corinthians won two Campeonatos Paulistas (1982 and 1983).

Socrates was a genuine progressive, who ran the generals out of Corinthians and helped to democratise not only his football club, but all of Brazil. In 1984, aged 30, he had his first experience abroad, playing for a single season in Italy's Serie A with ACF Fiorentina. He will not only be remembered as a fantastic footballer, but as a social activist and campaigner for democracy, both within the game and on the wider political stage.

The motto for the time was: "Ganhar ou perder, mas sempre com democracia" ("Win or lose, but always with democracy").

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