Forbes: FIFA Wants Tougher Actions Against Racism In Soccer, But Reportedly Rejects Black Couple In Brazil

This week, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was “sickened” to hear supporters of Spanish soccer club Real Betis racially abuse their own player. TV footage recently released shows Betis fans appearing to make racist gestures and noises at defender Paulo, a Brazilian player who is black, as he left the field after a loss to city rival Sevilla.

Por: Anderson Antunes

On his official Twitter account, Blatter publicly condemned the incident and stated that it was “nonsense to fight racism with fines,” a practice that has long been used by FIFA. “This has to be tackled by ALL competition organizers,” he added.

In October, during the 150th gala dinner of English Football Association (FA), Blatter had already addressed the issue and how it should be dealt with. “We need to eliminate teams from a competition or deduct points. Only by such decisions is it possible to go against racism and discrimination. If we don’t do that it will go on and go on. We have to stop it; we need the courage to do it. We can do something better to fight racism and discrimination. This is one of the villains we have today in our game,” he said at the time.

But a curious case now unfolding in Brazil points up just how hard it is to stamp out racism, or even the appearance of racism, even within FIFA itself. Brazilian soccer fans are upset at FIFA once again for allegedly rejecting two TV stars, Camila Pitanga and her husband, Lazaro Ramos, as the hosts of the event in which lots are drawn to decide the groupings of the teams in the Cup. The drawing was to be held in the resort Costa do Sauipe, in the Northeastern state of Bahia, on December 6. Bahia, whose capital Salvador is known worldwide for its street carnival, has the largest African-descended population in Brazil, a country that — as ethnically mixed as it is — also holds the title of having the biggest largest African-descended population outside of Africa.

So apparently it only seemed natural for Geo Eventos, the Brazilian organizers of the final draw show, that a couple of African origin should host the event. FIFA reportedly thought otherwise. The institution went on to choose another famous TV couple, Fernanda Lima and her husband, Rodrigo Hilbert, who are both white and have European roots.

Sure it could just have been an unfortunate but random decision by FIFA’s bosses in Brazil, but it didn’t sit well with soccer fans, who are already angry at FIFA for what they consider a gross misallocation of resources in what concerns the sums invested by the government into the World Cup planning.

Brazil is a country where almost every kind of prejudice can be dismissed as humorous recklessness, often with tacit media support. For the first time in years, however, the issue of racism and racial inequality is actually been addressed as it should — earlier this month President Dilma Rousseff announced that she plans to push for legislation that would establish quotas for the number of black people employed by the government. If passed, the proposal would require that 20% of government workers are black.

In 2003, when the left-leaning Workers’ Party took power, Brazil introduced the Racial Equality Statute, which finally passed into law in 2010. It was aimed at giving tax incentives to businesses that pushed for racial inclusion, and required all elementary and middle schools in the country to teach African and Brazilian black history, and issued a racial quota provision for businesses and institutions of higher education.

Brazil is doing its job to fight racism. So should FIFA, and as a matter of damage control, perhaps its powerful boss should give Pitanga and Ramos a call. That would certainly make many Brazilians happy, something that Blatter should be focused in achieving.

UPDATE: FIFA’s Head of Media Delia Fischer contacted FORBES to make the following statement:

“(…) FIFA never vetoed anybody. The presenters and the artists for the draw show were proposed by GEO, the responsible agency for the creative concept of TV show, together with TV Globo who is producing the TV Show. At no stage FIFA vetoed any of the artists nor presenters proposed. To find the best presenters and artists to represent a host country during a TV show is something we leave to the host country. The selection of Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert was mainly based on the positive experience made during the launch of the Official Emblem and the Preliminary Draw. The mix of artists and presenters showcase and represent the diversity of the Brazilian society and culture.”

Fonte: Forbes

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