Like most Brazilians, Leandro Barbosa’s formative years were tied to the soccer culture of the country. The Barbosa family’s links to Sport Club Corinthians, considered the most popular team in Sao Paulo, were defining in both sporting and sociopolitical senses.
During Barbosa’s childhood, Corinthians emerged as more than just a well-known soccer club, making a stand against the country’s ruling dictatorship. World-class players such as Socrates were also socially conscious activists, turning games into a political statement as they persuaded management to put “Democracia Corintiana” on their jerseys in place of a sponsor’s logo. And they were credited with playing an important role in Brazil’s transition to democracy.