Kaka’s inclusion in Brazil squad shows marketers still in control of the team

Orlando City midfielder Kaka has been called up to the Brazilian national team for a pair of friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States, making him the first MLS player to get a Brazil call-up.

Good for him, right? With nine goals in 22 appearances, he’s been playing well and Brazil manager Dunga justified the decision by explaining the need for experience. From ESPN FC:

“Kaka is a reference, like Robinho before him,” Dunga said during his news conference, stressing the need for youth and experience. “He gives us experience and maturity when times are difficult, when we need it off the field and on.

“We need to bring in young players to give them experience and have older players there to help them.”

But what makes the decision suspicious is the fact that 33-year-old Kaka, who has great memories but little future with the team, replaces 23-year-old Liverpool midfielder Coutinho, who could be vital to Brazil’s future. And there’s the coincidence that both matches will be played in the U.S., where Kaka is a far bigger draw than Coutinho, especially now that he plays in MLS and is coming off an MVP performance in the league’s All-Star Game.

Sadly, this information falls into line with the recent investigation by Brazilian journalist Jamil Chade that revealed the contractual influence of marketing firm ISE on team selection, removing all concern for player development in favor of pure profit generation.

It’s not just business interests damaging Brazil, though. Dunga is ensuring that personal biases play a role, too. He also excluded Thiago Silva, whom he stripped of the captaincy upon returning to the job, in favor of 24-year-old Arsenal bench warmer Gabriel Paulista.

So if you’re still wondering how a nation with so much talent can disappoint at major tournaments like Brazil have been doing in recent years, here’s your answer.

5 comments

  1. Ryan says:

    I think some of the other selections are almost more telling: For instance, Lucas Lima and Gabriel Paulista. One’s a good playmaker in the Brazilian league, but is already 25 and certainly isn’t going to be a mainstay with the team. The other is a bench player for Arsenal and is already 24. Half of the players from the Copa America team play in Ukraine, the Middle East or China, and the starting goalkeeper plays in the 2nd division of Brazil. In other words, the talent pipeline just isn’t pumping nowadays. After all, the problem with the 2014 squad wasn’t that Fred and Jo were the strikers–it’s that there wasn’t an obvious choice to replace them.

    • Brooks Peck says:

      Might be splitting hairs, but he was only on loan at Toronto — he was technically a QPR player and he left Toronto before the World Cup began. Still, you have a point.

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