Note from BW of Brazil: Well, once again the “dictatorship of whiteness” prevails in a situation involving Brazil. There’s a lot going here so let’s get right to it. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup. As preparations continue for an event that is being seen as Brazil’s official entry onto the world stage, the politics of race has once again reared its ugly head in the representation of the face of Brazil. It was recently announced that a pair of black actors suggested by Brazil’s top TV network to host the ceremonial Final Draw (1) of the teams were rejected by soccer’s international governing committee, FIFA, and replaced by a white couple. As the Brazilian media has long had an obsession with whiteness, this comes as no surprise, although it has once again caused outrage in Afro-Brazilian circles.
Now, to be fair here, it must be pointed out that the Globo TV network did actually suggest well-known actors Lázaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga to announce the configuration of World Cup teams, for all we know, behind the scenes this could have been just a ploy. As Globo’s modus operandi has long been to present the country as an extension of Europe in the tropics, how does one know that the network didn’t simply offer the two black actors as a gesture to claim that it attempted to push diversity already knowing that FIFA would reject this suggestion? Maybe this is an outlandish accusation, but without being involved, no one can confirm or deny the possibility. In the end, as usual, blondes are given preference in a huge media event that will represent how a majority non-white country is presented to the world.
Here’s how FIFA made the announcement:
“The team of artists that will represent the cultural and musical diversity of Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Final Draw has just got even stronger, with the Brazilian actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert coming on board to present the ceremony. With big names from the Brazilian music world such as Margareth Menezes, Olodum and Emicida having already agreed to perform, the Final Draw show which takes place at Costa do Sauipe, Bahia, on 6 December 2013, promises to be quite an event. Joining them will be Alcione, one of the leading figures of popular Brazilian music, with three other star acts to be announced shortly. The 90-minute live show, which starts at 17:00 CET (13:00 local time), will take place at a specially constructed venue at the coastline of Bahia and has been designed to showcase the host nation’s natural beauty and many musical attractions. Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert have worked together before, teaming up to host the launch event of the Official Emblem of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg in 2010, while the actress also presented the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw in Rio de Janeiro in July 2011.”
BW of Brazil will offer more commentary later in this post, but for now, here’s how a few websites reported the announcement:
After rejecting two popular black actors, FIFA chooses a white couple for the ceremonial Final Draw of World Cup teams
by Rogerio Jovaneli
Globo TV suggested actor Lázaro Ramos (from the state of Bahia) and actress Camila Pitanga (Rio de Janeiro) for the presentation of the Final Draw for the World Cup, but the idea was rejected by FIFA.
According to the Radar Online column of from Veja magazine, the entity that runs the world of soccer chose another pair, Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert*, to lead the fashionable event of the 2014 World Cup, to be held on December 6th in Bahia.
Surely it’s a coincidence the choice of a white couple, formed by a woman from Rio Grande do Sul and a man from Santa Catarina (the two whitest states in Brazil); the rejection of black actors too.
FIFA rejected the black duo suggested by Globo TV
by Lelê Teles
Last week, fans of the Spanish soccer team Bétis, of which the Brazilian Paulão (2) is a player, booed him and made monkey sounds and gestures at him. Fans of his own team! However, FIFA didn’t wish to know the black couple and chose a couple of blond southerners to present the ceremony of the Final Draw for the World Cup next year.
Lázaro Ramos, one of the great Brazilian actors of today, a son of popular theater, is from Bahia, where the event will be held next month. Bahia is the state that has the largest black contingent of Brazil. And more: Bahia is the center of black pride and resistance in Brazil.
But FIFA preferred the masters of ceremonies, to be broadcast around the world, were host Fernanda Lima and the cook Rodrigo Hilbert.
Brazilian soccer until the 20s, refused to professionalize black players. President Epitácio Pessoa came to veto the presence of blacks on the Brazilian team in the South American Cup of 1921. But blacks did not give up and were earning their place. First in the Vasco (soccer club), turning the team into a powerhouse and later Bangu, Flamengo, Fluminense…
In 1934, to the Brazilian team came the audacious Leônidas da Silva, known as Diamante Negro (Black Diamond), inventor of the bicycle kick, the most spectacular, most creative and most unusual move in soccer. In the World Cup of 1938, the Diamante Negro led the team that charmed the world; a team with whites, mulattos and blacks. Four decades later, a black man emerges as the biggest name of this sport of all times (Pelé). Then came Romário, Denner, the Ronaldos, Rivaldo, Robinho, Neymar….
The question, therefore, is not that CBF has chosen a blond couple. It is that it rejected the black couple.
In fact, despite being the largest exporter of players abroad, and most of them being black, Brazil still has few blacks in positions of command. After the black Barbosa had taken on his back all the blame for the loss of the 1950 World Cup, it took a long time to see another black man wearing a goalkeeper jersey for the seleção (the national team).
FIFA could have suggested mixing Fernanda Lima and Lázaro Ramos or Pitanga and Hilbert. But even campaigning against racism in soccer stadiums, FIFA could not understand the symbolism of having there at least one black representing Brazil; or it didn’t wish to understand.
In the Confederations Cup last year, during the match between Uruguay and Italy, due to the exorbitant ticket prices, the blackest guy inside the Fonte Nova Arena, in black Bahia, was the Italian Balotelli.
FIFA has already wanted to ban the sale of acarajé during the games, and allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums. It does this and it happens. It may not even care about the fact that, in Brazil, the price of admission can segregate races.
I went to the balcony looking out at the sea, a thought passed through the sea air and I grabbed it: with a thousand devils, even with all this being known to us all, FIFA refused the black couple and hired a couple of blonds. And they accepted it!
Note from BW of Brazil: So let’s take a closer look at this situation which granted several examples of racism and/or racial exclusion. First we have FIFA playing right along with the Brazilian media’s own playbook by rejecting the idea of black Brazilian hosts of a high profile event. Regardless of whether the blame falls on the Brazilian media or FIFA, the result is the same: for representation, white people, preferably blonds are always better.
Second, I can already hear those who will deny the exclusionary nature of this choice. I mean, isn’t it true that the artists performing (singers Margareth Menezes and Alcione, bloco afro Olodum and rapper Emicida) are black? Well, true, but traditionally music and sports have two of the few areas where Afro-Brazilians are allowed to shine, this after years of black exclusion in soccer and within the music genre, where black artists are rare in the more lucrative popular music (MPB) realm of Brazilian music. As actors and journalists in the Brazilian media are overwhelmingly white, the choice of two actors/models from southern Brazil maintain this standard.
Third, after many years of blatantly racist incidents in European soccer stadiums (as the most recent involving Paulão), FIFA created an anti-racism task force to punish racist acts in the game. Apparently, for FIFA, this doesn’t apply off the field in terms of those who will be the faces of the game in the media. Incidents like these give the impression that while they say want to address issues of diversity and tolerance, in reality, they simply want to keep things the same without admitting it. What’s that old saying? “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
* – While Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert are married in real life, Lázaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga are not. Ramos is married to popular actress Taís Araújo. Ramos and Pitanga starred together in the 2012 novela Lado a Lado.
1. The Final Draw, called the “Sorteio dos grupos” in Brazil, is a presentation in which all of the teams from the tournament are drawn and divided into groups of competing teams that form the competitions bracket slots.
2. A new case of racism marked the round of the Campeonato Espanhol (Spanish Championship) on Sunday. This time the victim was Paulão, who is black, during the defeat of Betis by Sevilla by a score of 4-0 at the Estádio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán (stadium). After the Brazilian received a second yellow card and was ejected from the field after 41 minutes the first half, fans of his own team harassed the player making obscene gestures and making monkey gestures. Stunned, the Brazilian left the field crying. At 31, Paulão has been with Betis since 2011 after spells with French and Portuguese teams. In Brazil, he played in the Gama team. Source