White female soccer fans on dating black players: "If he weren’t a player, I’d stay with my little white guy"

Soccer superstar Ronaldinho Gaúcho

“O homem negro é melhor aceito como par quando tem status superior ao da esposa branca, o que serve para “compensar” a diferença entre os dois.”

“The black man is better accepted as a partner when he has superior status than his white wife, which serves to “compensate” (for) the difference between the two.”

– Thales de Azevedo, Brazilian professor/researcher in

Democracia racial: ideologia e realidade, 1975

Continuing with our theme for the next few days, black men/white women interracial relationships in Brazil, this article is very revealing about how this type of relationship functions in Brazil. Although recent reports show that Afro-Brazilians have been experiencing major ascension into Brazil’s middle class in the past decade, traditionally, soccer and music have been the only ways that black men in Brazil have been able to attain wealth, fame and prestige. For many years, Brazil promoted the idea that skin color didn’t matter, but over the past six decades, various studies, including articles from this blog, prove that skin color has a strong influence on one’s social status and experience in Brazil. 

The article below (from 2010) portrays an important dynamic that attracts white female soccer fans to black athletes: money. There are a few issues I have with the researcher’s conclusions about race, money and relationships, but first read the article and come to your own conclusion. At the end of this article, I will offer my own analysis. 

In soccer, the racial question doesn’t matter for intimate relationships

Fernanda Mena


Futebol (soccer) is a magic wand. Among the spells it is capable of is diluting and even erasing the issue of racial context when the subject is of an amorous or sexual order.

“Soccer is one of the only places in that the racial question is less important for the amorous mediations,” says researcher Leda Maria da Costa, of the Center for Studies and Research on Sport and Society at Fluminense Federal University in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro.

“It doesn’t matter the color or beauty, what matters to women fascinated with soccer players is the aura and the social status they have.”

The conversation between women is striking, as Folha de S.Paulo found in the aisles and bleachers of the Antarctica Park, on March 22nd (2010), during the match between Palmeiras and Grêmio.

Which player is your object of desire? “Vagner Love,” fires back the lawyer Neide DeLaurentis, 35, without hesitation, hair blow dried and face made-up. You like him for how he looks or because of the bank account? “Ah, the two things.”


Vágner Love, a striker for the Flamengo soccer club in Rio de Janeiro

Would you be with him if he was just a neighbor and not a famous player? “Then, no”, she admits. “Not that I’m being racist, but if a black person approaches me, I will research whether he is a lawyer, soccer player, a working man. If he was a soccer player, which is really related to money,” she adds.

 
Neide Delaurentis: Would not pursue black soccer star if he were just her neighbor
 
 

The businesswoman Gilmara dos Reis, 24, also didn’t hide how the world of soccer fame and wealth can shape, or release, her desire.When she goes to the stadiums, she leaves her “branquinho (little white)” boyfriend and doesn’t take her eyes off the muscular legs of the players with black skin. “It’s each big leg”, she says, fanning herself.

But if there is so much fascination with the body of the black man on the field, why not look for them outside the stadium? “Oh, no.  If he weren’t a player, I’d stay with my branquinho (little white guy) back home.”

 
Gilmara dos Reis: 
“If he (black athlete) wasn’t a player, I’d stay with my little white guy back home”
 

Leda insists: “What mediates the relationship is the status of the player, and not their color or their race. Whatever may be a decisive factor in the amorous choices is no longer important within the world of soccer.”

The researcher studied the figure of the “Maria Chuteiras (groupies or gold diggers of soccer players)” in opposition to the rise of the figure of the female fan. And unravels the moment in which the soccer player emerges as an object of female desire.

It was in the 1920s that the figure of the athletic man replaced the slight figure and unsmiling man of the letters who once provoked girls’ fantasies. This change comes along with the social visibility that players get to have with the popularization of soccer.

“There is an imaginary energy around the soccer player, which not only attracts physically but that is also rich and absolutely immersed in the media.”

More recently, Brazil’s fourth World Cup championship in 1994, breaking a drought of 24 years, promoted the theme of soccer gossip columns and celebrity magazines, revealing millionaire salaries, routine vacations, luxury cars and clothes of the players.

In this context, the beautiful woman becomes just another status symbol, like a car of the year. For Leda, however, the differences weigh in even if covertly. “Any black man who ascends socially and marries a white woman is charged for this. And the case of the soccer player is no exception to the rule. It’s a complex issue.”

So what conclusion did you come to here? My conclusion is as follows. I won’t draw any complete conclusions about researcher Leda Maria da Costa because I have not read her entire thesis on this topic. But based on what I read it seems that the title of the article, “In soccer, the racial question doesn’t matter for intimate relationships”, is misleading at best and a flat out lie at worst. How is it that one can draw the conclusion that the racial question doesn’t matter? One of the women even precluded her statement with the ever popular “Not that I’m being racist” phrase. 

Neide said that she would not pursue a black man if he were just her neighbor and not a famous player. She goes on to elaborate on what she would do if “a black person approaches” her. Let’s analyze a few things. Neide is a  lawyer (advogada), a prestigious occupation in Brazil and in the world, thus I would assume that she lives in a middle class or above neighborhood. If she has a black neighbor that would signify that this person also has the financial means to live in such a neighborhood. Thus if she would reject him if he were her neighbor and he has a similar socioeconomic profile, this would mean that she is rejecting him simply based on his race. If she were simply interested in someone that had a similar economic profile, race wouldn’t have anything to do with her selection. Her insistence on doing a thorough background check on a black person would seem to signal that she accepts social and racial stereotypes about black people in general. 

Gilmara’s statements are similar. She admits she wouldn’t pursue a black man outside of the stadium or who one wasn’t a soccer player. Sure, she may be sexually attracted to him, but it is his status on the field that signals money and privilege. One could argue that her words display social prejudice rather than racial prejudice but she continues that if a black man weren’t a soccer player, she’d stay with the white guy she’s already got. Interpreted another way, one could argue that a black man is being held to a higher standard in this context. It would appear from her statement that if a black man had a similar status to the white guy she had at home, this wouldn’t be good enough. Gilmara is a businesswoman (empresária) and, presumably, as status seems to be important to her, her “little white guy back at home” has a similar socioeconomic profile as she does.Thus, if a black man is a superstar, high profile athlete, this would make him wealthier, more prestigious and socially admired than the white guy she’s got at home and thus, because of this, acceptable or even desirable.

Since the 1940s, there have been countless studies on social ascension (including Thales Azevedo 1957, Donald Pierson 1942) of the black population in Brazil that suggests that since black skin is a social stigma or disadvantage, Afro-Brazilian men that have social mobility will marry white women of a lower socioeconomic bracket as a trade off and acceptance in white society. He has the money but is the “wrong” color. She has the “right” color but is in a lower economic bracket. In this article about  Brazil’s so-called “Maria Chuteiras”, or “gold diggers” as Americans would call them, we don’t necessarily see poor white women pursuing rich black men because the women interviewed appear to be successful in their own right (lawyer, businesswoman). But what we DO see is that black Brazilian men are held to a higher standard in the area of relationships than white men which seems to confirm the old saying: “If you’re black, you have to be 10 times better”.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment. 

Source: Folha de S.Paulo, Black Women of Brazil

Related articles

Why do black Brazilian men prefer blonds? Part 1
Why do black Brazilian men prefer blonds? Part 2
Black men, white women in Brazil: Although common, still a taboo
The “negão” and the fetishization of interracial sex in Brazil

About Marques Travae 3386 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

9 Comments

  1. Another good article which is something that has interested me for a long time. I'm a black man from the UK, England where we have the same problem. I recently done research on black premiership footballers born in the UK with black wives and found 2 out of the whole premiership, in England to be with a footballer is the big thing, even more than most countries, women become famous from it, have their own TV shows etc, these women only see social staus and money, yes golddiggers, they don't really want a black guy and will try and keep him away from his black culture, becuase she classes her culture higher than his, the problem is, even though the black footballer has a higher staus, she will act like she has a high staus because she is white and blonde or whatever and the black man will think he's lucky to be with a white woman he wouldn't be able to get if he wasn't a footballer. There is no way any of the white women you see with black footballers would be with them if they weren't famous and they defintely don't want anything to do with black culture which becomes a problem if they have children.To be honest I actually wanted to slap both of the women interviewed, but at least they're being honest. Black men need to wake up. I realised this when I was 12 years old.

  2. priceless21 and Tori Tee: Your comments are greatly appreciated. I would like to know more about the interracial thing in the UK because I read a piece a few years ago that said something like 60-66% of Caribbean born black men are married to white women in the UK. Tori, from your comments, it seems that you disagree with these figures. Priceless21, give me an estimate of the percentages of interracial couples you see.

  3. Thanks for your comments. When I said slap the women it was a figure of sppech I didn;t mean it literally. I didn't say all footballers I said Premiership footballers born in the UK, there were players from other countries like Gael Clichy of Manchester City from France, but the only two from the UK were Aaron Lennon from Spurs who is mixed raced and Kieran Richardson who is also mixed raced both their girlfriends are also mixed raced, if you know anymore let me know. Where I'm from in England the black men only date white women but it's outside of London, but my family live in London and when I'm there all I see is black men with white women, the black women I know are always moaning about it. I expect you live in South East London where alot of African families will not tolerate bringing a white partner home.

  4. I really enjoyed this post and the comments that came along; i’m from Congo, but live in the USA for awhile, and I can say from what I see and from my personal experience, that this issue of interracial relationship is real and needs to be addressed. I’m not against interracial relationship, but what bothers me the most, is that it like the higher a black man status raise in society, the more likely he will be involved in interracial relationship. That means, more and more of our sisters are left only with people who can’t take them to a higher social status. It’s not common, if not almost impossible to see a rich, successful white man, who is married to a beautiful, regular black woman; when it does happen, it’s the exception that confirms the rule. I would not mind if the proportion of white men married to black women was the same, or close to the proportion of black men married to white women…… I got an for example for the Superbowl which is the biggest sporting event in the USA, i didn’t see any white player with a black woman, but when it came to black players, I saw several of them. I have another example with the French soccer team in the world cup, that team has more than 12 black players, but i only saw one black woman for the whole team, the other wives and girlfriends are all white. France is a country where racism is kind of active, because there’s a racist, right wing party that just won the elections; but how you explain to me most of their black players are married to white women? Brazil is very interesting too, because most of their black players are married to white women, but they are always complaining about racism in Europe; why are they married to white women then? We as black men need to look at the mirror, and find what is wrong with us. I have to admit that in the U.S, the situation is not too desperate, but in Europe, and Latin America, the situation seems to be out of control. I’m not gonna lie, but when i moved in the U.S, i was telling myself that i would be color-blind, but what happened was that most white women will never give you a chance if you are on the same level than them; but once you go to college and graduate, get a good job, or become professional athlete or celebrity, then they start coming to you. And it wasn’t just white women, i had the same problem with Latina, Asians, and even some black light-skinned women who preferred light-skinned or white men only. So this issue can only be resolved if we black men can be proud of ourselves, and do what white men do, marry our own sisters, treat them right like we treat women of other races. show them love and respect, and make them proud to be black and beautiful. .

  5. Yes, it is the same all over. Sad part is rich black men see no problem with white women wanting them for the bodies and money. What about his family and culture. Oh, that doesn’t matter because they will usually live in a whiter neighborhood.

  6. I’m late but your all caps were not needed and it’s very obvious that you are an African immigrant. I’ve heard that African immigrants look down on Caribbean immigrants. Instead of looking down, you could be working on making your respective African country a better place to live in so you don’t have to go run to whitey (Europe) or feed of the backs of black Americans (United States) all because you could not make it in Africa.

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