Isabela Mills

About Author: 

Originally from Brazil, Isabela joined Readex in January 2012 through the NewsBank/Readex Internship Program. She is now responsible for developing sales opportunities in the Brazilian academic market by introducing the Readex brand and creating new relationships with local librarians.

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The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

As a rising global power, Brazil has received a large share of international news coverage during the past few years. Now with the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off this month, the media spotlight has returned to the world’s fifth largest country, a land where soccer is the most popular sport and whose national team has won the most World Cup titles.

But where does all this football talent come from? How and why did soccer—or futebol as it is known there—become Brazil’s top sport? Although the full story of Brazil’s infatuation with football remains unclear, Miller’s major role in fostering interest is supported by a search of Latin American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1805-1922.

Charles William Miller was born in São Paulo in 1874, son of John Miller, a Scottish railway engineer, and a Brazilian mother of English descent, Carlota Fox. At age ten he was sent to the Banister Court Public School in Southampton, England, to get a better education and where he learned to play cricket and football. A natural at both sports, Miller developed a particular passion for football. He returned to Brazil in 1894, carrying a Football Association rule book, two soccer balls, and lots of excitement. “What have you got there, Charles?” asked his father John when he saw him on the dockside for the first time. “My degree,” Charles replied. “Your son has graduated in football.”

Miller taught soccer to his friends and the game quickly became popular among not only the urban elite but also bands of poor children. Miller helped set up the football team of the São Paulo Athletic Club (SPAC) as well as Brazil’s first football league, Liga Paulista.

On December 21,1905, the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo reported in this brief article on Miller’s extensive involvement in Brazil’s fledgling soccer leagues:



The Father of Brazilian Soccer: Searching for Charles Miller in Latin American Newspapers

Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

According to, Brazil was one of the world’s largest importers of African slaves, obtaining approximately one-third of the slaves taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade. It is estimated that more than three million Africans were sent to Brazil as slaves, a far higher number than were imported into North America.¹

As the number of Africans forced to farm cotton and sugar plantations grew from the 16th to the 19th century, the Brazilian economy became highly dependent on slave labor. Even after obtaining independence from Portugal in 1822, Brazil resisted the U.K.-led anti-slavery movement.²

The use of enslaved Africans in Brazil for multiple types of  labor can be seen by looking at the numerous advertisements for the sale and trade of slaves found in local newspapers. This example appeared in an issue of Rio de Janeiro’s Jornal do Commercio, published on October 27, 1827:

Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

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