As we were pursuing a controlling interest in the Brazilian sports Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, known simply as Vasco, one of the aspects that intrigued us was their dedication to diversity and equality for all.
With a rich history that dates back to 1898 and named after Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, Vasco has long spoken to those seeking freedom and a better way of life. At times a home, a family, and often a leader for equality and justice, it was the first top-tier football club in Rio de Janeiro to hire a black athlete.
Their passion for equality led us to see this opportunity as having the potential for a greater impact than we had previously imagined.
We learned about the struggles of the founders of the Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, who never had success served to them on a silver platter. To some Brazilians, they were still deemed foreigners. This only made Vasco fight harder against oppression of any kind.
In 1920, Brazilian society was still rife with racism. And football was no exception.
But by 1923 that began to change: Vasco da Gama won the Campeonato Carioca fielding a team that included black and working-class players. The following year, 12 of the players were deemed ‘unsuitable’ for a new league that was forming. Vasco was told to release them.
The other clubs broke away and created their own association, and barred Vasco from joining. Relinquished to playing smaller teams, Vasco finally reached an agreement in 1925 to rejoin the elite league. On their terms.
This passion for doing things their way, with a conscious, continues today.
In 2021, Vasco again led the way in the sport with the first-of-its-kind auction of limited-edition pride uniforms to help a local LGBTQ+ institution in Rio de Janeiro.
The Casa Nem institution is a lifeline for the trans community in Rio, providing housing for LGBTQIA+ people in situations of social vulnerability.