Note from BW of Brazil: So by now everyone knows that the long anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil has begun with the host team opening with a convincing 3-1 victory over Croatia in the Itaquerão stadium in São Paulo. As was also anticipated, superstar Neymar’s star shined even brighter as he marked two of the home team’s goals and entered the top ten list of all-time Brazilian scorers for the seleção, Brazil’s National Team. Also in typical fashion, Brazilians presented another example of the racism that everyone wants to deny but that remains part of the national character. Although the score may have been 3-1 in favor of the home team, in reality, the Brazilians scored all four goals in the game if one counts the own goal accidentally scored by Marcelo. Consistent with beliefs that only blacks make mistakes because of their race, Brazilians took to Twitter and blasted the preto (black) Marcelo for his error.
An image that was even more evident of how race works in Brazil were the various shots of the crowd in Itaquerão. Sure, over the past decade or so, policies have attempted to diversify more areas of a Brazilian society dominated by the presence of persons who look as if their racial origins are purely European. As the excitement for the game reached a peak, the overwhelming whiteness of the crowd was hard to miss. As André Barcinski put it:
“If racial and cultural integration of Brazil was the main theme of the opening party, this was not reflected in the stands. The stadium was whiter than Norway. Finding a black person among the spectators was a difficult task.”
Minutes before the game started, three children, one black, one white, one Indian, representing the origins of the Brazilian people, entered the field to release doves into the air, but one was hard pressed to find such diversity in the stands. In reality, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as in July of 2013 we covered the same issue at the Confederations Cup, also held in Brazil as well as in the official World Cup commercial and the controversy behind the selection of the World Cup Final Draw couple. In the end, one could argue that the camera did show the pride of the Brazilian people,well, at least the European part.
Black players, white spectators
The relationship between racial tensions (or strains) and futebol in Brazil is extensive
by Antonio Jiménez Barca with Leonardo Sakamoto
In 1914, a mulatto player of the elitist futebol club Fluminense, from Rio de Janeiro, to mask the color of his skin, smeared his face with pó de arroz meaning rice powder. In the beginning it was okay. But when he began to sweat, his trick was discovered. The player was forever marked as Pó de Arroz, as well as the club itself. The relationship between racial tensions (or strains) and futebol in Brazil is extensive.
Indeed, many historians and experts who argue that football served precisely to unite the different races that inhabit this country-continent, which is one of the few things we all do together, rich and poor, white and black, or that everyone watches together. And the seleção (meaning selection or National Team) would be the high point of this feeling of brotherhood over colors. Yes, but there are also those who say that in 1950, the goalie Barbosa, being black, was unfairly blamed for taking the definitive Ghiggia goal in the unfortunate Maracanazo. If he were white, he would have been forgiven. In the video on YouTube, we can prove that the action of Barbosa was neither a huge mistake, nor can even be categorized as an error. But tell that to the poor goalie who carried throughout life, until his death in 2000, the immense guilt of having served as an instrumental of disgrace. Even in the supermarkets he was pointed out with the finger: “Look, daughter, the man who made Brazil cry,” once said the mother to her daughter in the presence of the afflicted Barbosa.
Pelé, Garrincha and other redeemed their race and turned the Brazilian team in a mestiço (mixed race) and perfect machine capable of fabricating the best futebol in history. Since then, the seleção of Brazil was a faithful radiography of the society where over half the population is negro or mulatto.
And so it was more or less the team that entered Thursday in the Itaquerão stadium and defeated Croatia thanks to Neymar and a referee armed with the spray of a graffiti artist.
However, the stands were filled with thousands and thousands of white Brazilians, almost all white, the ones who, in their majority, have money in this country to pay admission, the ones that in general in this country, go to the movies, theater, exhibitions or to the best restaurants, those that dominate the best opportunities…
On the field it was easy: Marcelo, Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, Hulk, Ramires….But look at the photos of the match and try to find a black person among the public of the stadium, dressed in yellow, cheering with elation for their seleção. Try to find some black who was not watching everyone’s seleção on television, from the outside.
Note from BW of Brazil: Along these lines, the same sentiments were expressed by blogger Leonardo Sakamoto who notes that the images of the audiences in these games that are being transmitted around the world are not the face of the fans of the regular season games seen throughout the year. Those fans, most of whom simply couldn’t afford tickets, were be found in bars or in front of movie theater-sized public televisions around the country.
Those accustomed to going to series A and B Brazilian championship games…with squadrons of Brazilians and Bolivians may find it strange when viewing the almost monochrome bleachers in the World Cup.
Please do not get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to have fun.
But as we have more rich whites than rich blacks here (a totally random fact since they “are not racist”) one might expect that this happen. Moreover, considering the stabbing that buying a ticket directly with FIFA or via the sacred institution of the peddler could be.
Listening to the radio, the announcer stated: “Look how wonderful! It’s the Brazilian family returning to the stadiums.” In fact, a specific type of family: that of a margarine commercial. For the World Cup games are a time in which the space-time fabric is torn and everything attains faces of a parallel universe – irrigated to a lot of public money and heavy actions to keep the “dangerous classes”’ away. When in doubt, bomb them.
Particularly I think the most nefarious immediate consequence of the presence of spectators who don’t regularly frequent the stadiums is that it doesn’t push the team as needed.
Just affirming that, in the stadium, was not the “Brazilian fans.” Not by far! The fans that come rain or shine, win or lose, is there supporting his team, live, however mediocre it is. These people, which helps our futebol to be what it is, deserve to be better represented in the Itaquerão stands.