The Beautiful Game (Portuguese: o jogo bonito) is a nickname for association football, popular within media and advertising though rarely used by fans, which was popularised by the Brazilian professional footballer Pelé. Although the exact origin of the phrase is disputed, football commentator Stuart Hall used it in 1958. Hall admired Peter Doherty when he went to see Manchester City play at Maine Road and used the term "The Beautiful Game" to describe Doherty's style when playing.
The exact origins of the term are disputed. The origin has been attributed to Brazilian footballer Waldyr Pereira (Didi), and the presenter Stuart Hall claimed to have originated it in 1958. The English author and football fanatic H. E. Bates used the term earlier, including in a 1952 newspaper piece extolling the virtues of the game entitled "Brains in the Feet".
Brazilian footballer Pelé is credited with making the phrase synonymous with football. In 1977, he named his autobiography My Life and the Beautiful Game. The book's dedication reads "I dedicate this book to all the people who have made this great game the Beautiful Game." The phrase has entered the language as a description for football.
Sportswear company Nike has referenced the beautiful game in its football commercials. In 1996, a Nike commercial titled "Good vs Evil" was a gladiatorial game set in a Roman amphitheatre where ten football players from around the world, including Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Luís Figo, Patrick Kluivert and Jorge Campos, defend "the beautiful game" against a team of demonic warriors, which culminates in Cantona receiving the ball from Ronaldo, pulling up his shirt collar, and delivering the final line, "Au Revoir", before striking the ball and destroying evil.
Nike also uses the Portuguese phrase Joga bonito—meaning "play beautifully", and not "beautiful game", which would be Jogo bonito—as one of its slogans for football products. Nike began using the slogan Joga bonito in a campaign preceding the 2006 FIFA World Cup in an attempt to curb players' behaviours on the pitch. In collaboration with, and promoted by, former international footballer Eric Cantona (who once karate-kicked a fan), Nike released a series of adverts to promote a game that is skillful and dignified, not riddled with theatrics and poor sportsmanship.
- Gregg Bocketti, The Invention of the Beautiful Game: Football and the Making of Modern Brazil (Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2016)
- Harper, Nick (2 May 2003). "Stuart Hall". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
The player I fell in love with and who inspired me to coin the phrase "the beautiful game" was Peter Doherty, an inside forward, my first hero.
- Moore, Brian (15 July 2010). "South Africa World Cup besmirched 'beautiful' game". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- Hall, S; Mayo, S: The Daily Mayo, 6 May 2009, BBC Radio 5 Live
- Bates, H. E. (16 November 1952). "The Sunday Times". p. 4.
- Catlin, George (1848). Notes of eight year's travels and residence in Europe... p. 119.
- Heathcote, John Moyer; Edward Oliver Pleydell-Bouverie; Arthur Campbell Ainger (1890). Tennis. p. 10.
- "Pelé's journey from street urchin to soccer's greatest star hits the big screen". Fox News. Retrieved 31 May 2017
- "The World Cup will show why football is still a beautiful game" (12 June 2014). The Telegraph.
- Pelé, Robert L. Fish, Shep Messing (2007). My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Pelé. p. v. ISBN 9781602391963.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Brown, David (2004). "God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience". p. 398. Oxford University Press
- ““Rapper K'Naan's Wavin' Flag in World Cup triumph”. BBC. Retrieved 17 October 2018
- "New Model Army's "Beautiful Game" « The Ball 2014". Theball.tv. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "The Beautiful Game". The Beautiful Game. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014 – via The Internet Archive.
- Jackson, Steven J. (10 November 2004). Sport, Culture and Advertising: Identities, Commodities and the Politics of Representation. Routledge. p. 186.
- Antony Young (2007). "Profitable Marketing Communications: A Guide to Marketing Return on Investment". p. 138. Kogan Page Publishers,
- Steve Hatch, Jim Taylor (2009). "Rigorous Magic: Communication Ideas and their Application". John Wiley & Sons,
- Kane, Pat (18 July 2006). "Let football eat itself". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
- "Euro 2016: Adidas unveil 'Beau Jeu', the tournament's official match ball". The Independent. Retrieved 30 May 2017