Today marks Dia Do Botonista, the Brazilian Button Football Day! Celebrated every year on February 14th, this special day coincides with the birthday of Geraldo Cardoso Décourt.

Geraldo Cardoso Décourt was born on February 14, 1911, in Campinas, São Paulo. As a child, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where at the age of 11, he learned the game from his friends, a game that would become a significant part of his life.

In 1929, Décourt organized a group and named the game Football Celotex after the tables’ material imported from The Celotex CO in Chicago, USA. The following year, he published the first rulebook titled Celotex Football Rules. Several prominent contemporary newspapers, including O’Globo and A Noite, featured the publication, aiding in the game’s popularization.

In the 1940s, Décourt returned to São Paulo. Despite getting somewhat distant from button football due to his many responsibilities and work, in 1957, former boxer and table football player Éder Jofre gave him the title of Grêmio Dramático Luso Brasileiro, where many button football players gathered to play.

In 1975, after decades of dedicated work for table football, Décourt founded Botunice. The association was established with others, including his great friend and collaborator, Antonio Maria Della Torre.

In 1982, after seven years and with over 50 members, Botunice ceased to exist. In the same year, Décourt composed the Botonista anthem, recorded on a K7 cassette and released in only fifteen copies. Today, it is considered a treasure among button football enthusiasts.

In 1988, Décourt, along with every table football player, achieved the dream of having table football recognized as an amateur sport by the National Sports Council (CND). Much of this accomplishment can be attributed to the dedication of Antonio Maria Della Torre.

In addition to his involvement in table football, Geraldo Cardoso Décourt was a painter. Paulo Mendes de Almeida considered him one of the era’s – Brazil’s first – abstract artists. A Flamengo enthusiast at heart, the “pope of table football” passed away on May 24, 1998. In 2001, São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckimin officially declared Décourt’s birthday as Dia Do Botonista. Currently, the Brazilian Table Football Federation (CBFM) also acknowledges this date.

This information was originally published by Gabriel Adão on the Futmesario website and reproduced on the FEFUMERJ website on February 14, 2011.

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