Paulinho: Witnessing for Candomblé in the World of Soccer

Soccer players from Brazil often gain attention for their public testimonies of Evangelical Christianity. It has become so prevalent that it is considered normal in Brazil, although it can sometimes lead to trouble in more secular countries. But what happens when a Brazilian player boldly proclaims a different faith? This is the story of Paulinho, a soccer star who witnesses for an Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé, rather than Christianity.

Paulinho Religious Journey

Paulinho, now playing for Belo Horizonte’s Atlético Mineiro after a successful stint with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, has always been open about his faith in Candomblé. This has made him a controversial figure among some supporters. Even in his early career, when he played for Rio de Janeiro’s club Vasco da Gama, Paulinho faced insults and criticism from fundamentalist Christians who did not approve of his religion. This experience led him to move to the German league, where his faith was not a cause for concern.

Religious Intolerance in Soccer

Paulinho’s story sheds light on the religious intolerance faced by players who hold non-Christian beliefs. While Brazil is more accepting of diverse religious practices, more secular countries like France have stricter regulations regarding the public display of religious symbols and beliefs. This difference in attitudes can create challenges for players who wish to express their faith openly.

Paulinho Career and Success

Despite the controversy surrounding his religious beliefs, Paulinho has enjoyed a successful career in soccer. In 2017, at the age of seventeen, he became the youngest player ever to score in Brazil’s major league while playing for Vasco da Gama. His talent and dedication have earned him the opportunity to represent Brazil in prestigious tournaments such as the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where he scored in the opening game against Germany.

Current Controversy and Support

Even now, as Paulinho continues to shine on the soccer field, he faces criticism and insults on social media from a minority of Atlético Mineiro supporters who disapprove of his religion. However, it is important to note that he also receives immense support from fans and fellow players who respect his right to practice his faith. This support serves as a reminder that acceptance and tolerance can prevail even in the face of adversity.


Paulinho’s story highlights the significance of religious tolerance in sports and society. It reminds us that diversity should be celebrated and respected, regardless of our personal beliefs. As soccer fans, let us embrace the idea that players, like Paulinho, have the right to express their faith without fear of judgment or discrimination. By fostering an environment of inclusivity, we can create a world where everyone feels accepted, regardless of their religious convictions.