Note from BW of Brazil: The fall from grace is often very painful. Brazil has been known as the country of the “beautiful game” since winning three of four World Cup titles between the years 1958 and 1970. But since its last World Cup victory in 2002, the Cup’s only five-time champion has seen a hard fall with the three straight disappointments in 2006, 2010 and 2014, the last of which the country spent billions on as the tournament’s host. Last year, after the loss of superstar Neymar due to an injury he sustained from a controversial collision with a Colombia player, Brazil’s shortcomings on the pitch could longer be hidden by the will and talent of their only certified superstar. The seleção (national team) was humiliated in the team’s worst defeat in its history at the hands of the eventual winner, Germany, and then went on to lose the runner up game. In the last two games, the Brazilians were beat by a score of 10-1.
This year, hoping to bounce back, fans came back out to support the team in the 2015 Copa América in hopes of a return to the team’s winning ways. Not being hardcore futebol fan, even I had to take note of the team’s goalie, Jefferson de Oliveira Galvão. If you’ve read the history of black goalies on Brazil’s National Team, you’ll understand why this caught my attention. But regardless, after another lackluster performance without the participation of Neymar, the Brazilians were eliminated once again. And once again, the criticism has been hard. After the disaster that was last year’s World Cup, many were disappointed with the selection of new coach Dunga. The spark of the “beautiful game” had faded and many simply didn’t believe that the veteran Dunga was the man to re-organize the team into a contender. The world’s futebol teams have passed the Brazilians and everyone can see it.
Headlines in the nation’s top newspaper Folha de S.Paulo tell it all.
“Novo fracasso” (new failure).
“Sem Neymar, esse é o nível de nosso futebol” (without Neymar this is the level of our futebol).
“Foi um erro escolher o Dunga como técnico” (It was a mistake to choose Dunga as the coach)
Coach Dunga was also the topic of another controversy that went down before the team’s disappointing loss. His comments off the field initiated the latest round of controversy over the image of blacks in the nation’s imagination. Check the story below.
Dunga apologizes after statement about afrodescendentes
By Andres Stapff
Coach Dunga apologized for the statements given during the press conference on Friday. The coach talked about fighting like an Afro-descendant and lamented the expression he used.
“I want to apologize to everyone who might feel offended by my statement about afrodescendentes (people of African descent). The way I expressed it does not reflect my feelings and opinions,” he said.
The apology was published on the official website of the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (Brazilian Football Confederation) a few hours after the declaration was made and caused controversy throughout the country.
During the press conference on Friday, the coach complained about the persecution he suffers, because is always beaten up. However, what drew the most attention was the term used by the coach.
“Simple. We had bad luck, others had good luck. That seleção (national team) had a collection of 40 years without a Copa América and 24 years without a World Cup. I have taken so much beating and like to be beaten that I even sometimes think I am of African descent. The guys look at me: ‘Let’s beat him up over there’ and beat me, without a reason, nothing. ‘I don’t like him’ and start hitting me,” Dunga said.
No Dunga, I don’t like to be beaten!
By Michael Laiso Felix
The coach of the Brazilian national futebol team, Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, better known as Dunga, uttered the following phrase to refer to his life history, that he evaluates was very painful, “I guess I’m an afrodescendente so much I’ve gotten beat.”
At first, the phrase could even be viewed positively by identifying a person who recognizes that blacks suffer much more than non-blacks at all stages of his life. Blacks were beaten to be forcibly brought into the slavery period. He was beaten throughout the period of captivity. He was beaten for trying to fit into a racist, formal post-abolition society. And he’s beaten up to the present day, for facing the myth of racial democracy, which insists on presenting a miscegenated (mixed) Brazil with no racial problems and conflicts.
But reading the contents of the interview, the enchantment of a pseudo conscious comment by Dunga disappears with the complete phrase, “So, I even think I’m an African descendant, because I like to be beaten and to beat so much.”
Dunga, who said I like to be beaten?! Who told you, Mr. Coach of a National Team with a strong presence of blacks throughout its history, that the afrodescendente likes to be beaten in life, by police and by racism?!
We are more than 50% of the population, and yet black men and women are beaten from the beginning of their lives, when they don’t find positive references of their color. How many doctors do we know throughout our lives that are black in color and conscience? How many television hosts for child audiences are black? What percentage of black men and women are there in private advertisements in TV programs (see here and here), novelas (soap operas)? How many black judges do we have in Brazil? Of the 513 deputies and 90 senators, how many are a black man or woman?
In Brazil, blacks are the majority only in negative numbers, as the majority of the prison population, the majority killed by police. In services that pay poorly, such as in the area of cleaning, security and civil construction, the black is present in the majority.
Racism is striking in Brazil, and coach Dunga’s comments reinforce the stereotype that blacks like to be beaten, are lazy, don’t like to work, or do sloppy service. I don’t need to explain here, what the popular language of “serviço de preto” (black service), “negrice” or even “denegrir” (tarnish) means in terms of image for someone.
We need to advance, and a lot in the fight against racism. Affirmative Actions for the Combat of Racism instituted in recent years are still few and ineffective. They require expansion and control of its application, such as Law 11.645/08, which established the mandatory teaching of African, Afro-Brazilian and indigenous history and culture in Brazilian schools, (which is) rarely applied in practice.
We cannot remain silent in the face of gross and absurd comments such as that of coach Dunga.
The fight continues until the famous words of Martin Luther King in his speech entitled “I Have a Dream” come true:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Michael Laiso Felix, historian, black, specialist in Afro-Brazilian culture, Umbanda, militant in combating racism and religious intolerance
Director of Educafro wants to talk to Dunga to tell him that blacks don’t like to take beatings
Frei David, however, praises the coach for recognizing that blacks suffer from violence and are persecuted in Brazil
By Claudio Nogueira
Statements by coach Dunga, of the Brazilian national team, of that he seems to be African descendant (black), because he likes to be beaten and to beat so much – commenting on the criticism of which he has been a target at the command of the team in Copa América – were reverberating with the sectors of the black community. Director of the Educafro movement (free Pre-Vestibular/College Entrance exam prep courses for black and low-income students), the Franciscan friar David Raimundo dos Santos, wants to talk to the coach to know where he got the idea that African descent like to be beaten.
“It only worries me when he says that blacks ‘love to be beaten’. I am fully convinced that the afrodescendente population does not like it, so we fight against auto de resistência (which theoretically gives the police the right to shoot anyone who resists arrest warrant) that police use abusively and ostensibly, violating the Constitution enacted in 1988,” he said. “If Dunga accepts, I would talk to him and say, face to face, that black people do not like to be beaten. The exclusion of afrodescendente people was gestated in slavery and is perpetuated by the democratic period. Only I think he was wrong to say that black people like to be beaten. I would like to understand why he thinks so, and if possible I would like to meet with him to talk about it.”
The adherent of religion, however, could see positive aspects in the coach’s statements. For him, the coach ended up identifying with black Brazilian people who have always been beaten, raped and persecuted.
“I want to compliment him for speaking publicly that he recognizes that black people are violated and beaten by police and other sectors of Brazilian society, even without merit,” he said. “In another aspect, when he, who is ostensibly white, he feels like an African descendant because of suffering persecution, he is giving to the public elements of saying that in Brazilian society, the more African descendant, the more he is a victim of persecution and suffering.”
Note from BW of Brazil: As a final note to this piece, I would also like to express the idea that the coach possibly didn’t mean his words to come across as malicious. We know that often time when people speak sometimes the wrong phrases unexpectedly come out. On the other hand, his words do indeed echo Brazil’s feelings about its black population. As such, again, as the “place”/position of blacks in Brazilian society is so ingrained in the population’s psyche, its not surprising when people say such things, whether on purpose or by accident.