Brazil is one of the most diverse nations in the world. This is primarily attributable to the cultural integration that occurred during the colonial era that saw the merger of peoples from various places in the world into one nation; Brazil. It is arguably the most diverse Latin American country. To add to the beauty of this diversity, the country has a great appreciation for sports. Sports occupy a high pedestal in the Brazilian culture. There has been a considerably overwhelming diffusion of modern sports in Brazil from diverse methodological and theoretical approaches (Pope & Nauright 562). It is for this reason that soccer is by far the most celebrated sports activity in Brazil. The country even hosted the most recent FIFA World Cup competition and has prided itself in having some of the most decorated soccer players in the world including Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar, among others. This factor is important for understanding the character of the nation. It essentially explains why Brazil is primarily western. However in the midst of this diversity, it is notable that there are some inherent racial stereotyping and biasness in the nation. This is especially visible in the sporting sphere because therein the diversity in terms of culture and race becomes louder and the stereotyping more visible. The focus of this paper will be on racism specifically in the soccer fields towards Afro-Brazilian sportsmen and women.
In a country where there is exclusionism that strategically displaces and marginalizes Afro-Brazilians in many arenas in the nation’s life, it is not surprising that the same level of biasness is exercised with regard to the country’s personalities that participate in sporting activities (Afolabi 1). It is apparent that this racism has also become apparent with regard to “the beautiful game.” It is manifest through discrimination and exclusion from participating for instance in the Brazilian national team. There has essentially been institutionalization of Brazilian soccer traceable back to the exclusive private sports clubs that were founded at the turn of the century wherein soccer sprouted its first fruits (Ballvé & Daflon 1). Admission to these clubs was largely based on socio-economic standing and not necessarily race (Ballvé & Daflon 1). However it’s a known fact that racial differences (discrimination) went hand in hand with class discrepancies. This therefore directly or indirectly meant that Afro-Brazilian athletes were from the very onset denied access to actively participate in “the beautiful game.”
Because of its economic footprint and its appreciation of sports activities, Brazil has been the destination country with regard to the hosting of international sports activities. As aforementioned, Brazil hosted the most recent FIFA World Cup Competition in 2014 as well as the most recent Olympic games in 2016. It is the tradition in every hosting country, during the launching of the large sports events; the hosting country colorfully showcases its culture and traditions. What is ironical is that for both events, Brazil showcased its appreciation for the diverse cultures therein. According to an article dubbed BRAZIL TAKES PRIDE IN SPECTACULAR RIO 2016 OPENING, written by the Olympics News Team, it was apparent that Brazilians had a lot of appreciation for Afro-Brazilian sportsmen and women and that the country appreciated the profound influence of African culture on the Brazilian nation (Olympics News Team 2). It was apparently indicated therein that in the Olympics world, there is one universal law for everybody and that therein all persons are equal and that the values of our shared humanity therein are stronger that the dividing forces (Olympics News Team 2). Numerous Afro-Brazilians made performances during this grand opening and there was a beacon of hope for the breaking of the bondage of racism in the sports arena. First forward to the epitome of the Olympics competition when Brazil was playing against Germany, the mask was removed in an ugly way as blatant racism was witnessed in this emotionally charged competition. It is increasingly misleading to showcase to the whole world the amount of composure and tolerance that the Brazilians have towards their eminent diverse cultures during the grand opening only for the ugly truth to rear its face eventually. The historical and culturally ingrained racial bias towards Afro-Brazilian sports personalities should be dealt with conclusively.
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Olympics News Team. BRAZIL TAKES PRIDE IN SPECTACULAR RIO 2016 OPENING. Olympics Games News, 2016. Retrieved from
Pope, S., W., & Nauright, J. Routledge Companion to Sports History. Routledge, 2009.