On Soccer: The Soccer Team No One Wants to Play

General, United States

Their justification came in the form of a smattering of YouTube videos showcasing Canelas’s apparently gratuitous acts of violence — karate kicks, two-footed lunges — from previous games.

[embedded content] A YouTube video showing undue aggression by the soccer team Canelas 2010. Video by Lusco-fusco

More chilling was the anonymous testimony of former opponents. Canelas members had a habit, more than one said, of warning rivals and referees that they “knew where their families lived.” In normal circumstances, such threats might have been seen as empty bombast, but not with Canelas.

That is because Madureira is not just the captain of a minor club in a local soccer league. Known by his nickname Macaco — Monkey — he is also the leader of the Super Dragons, the largest, most powerful and most feared of F.C. Porto’s ultra groups. The majority of his teammates at Canelas also hold posts in the highest ranks of the ultras. Their words, and particularly their threats, hold ominous weight.

It is not easy to square Madureira’s reputation as the controversial, firebrand commander of an army of 5,000 hard-core fans with the relaxed, engaging character who arrived at F.C. Porto’s Estádio do Dragão for an interview on a sunny Thursday morning in April.

A group of schoolchildren was milling around outside as Madureira walked up. He had not exactly come incognito: distressed leather jacket, skinny jeans, diamond stud in one ear. The children, a junior futsal team that had just completed a stadium tour, stopped, as one, and stared. Madureira’s day job with the Super Dragons makes him something of a celebrity here. A coach was dispatched to ask, a little sheepishly, if he would pose for a photo with the boys.

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Source: New York Times

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