Although portrayed to the outside world as some sort of racial paradise, Brazil is nothing of the sort. It was the last country of the west to abolish slavery, and when it did so in 1888, the establishment gave the freed slaves no means for survival or economic integration, creating a huge, destitute underclass, the lasting effects of which we can still see today. One arena where racism is still apparent today is football, Brazil’s national sport and so often a reflection of society as a whole.
Despite the majority of players being non-white, they are often treated in stereotypes. While the white players of European origin are strong-willed leaders, black players are seen as tricky, inventive, but ultimately unintelligent and untrustworthy.
That is not to mention the many cases of on-field racial abuse which we have witnessed over the years.
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Euan Marshall is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics, and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Independent, The Guardian, and Jacobin Magazine, among others. In 2014, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”
Marcel Diego Tonini holds a Ph.D. in Social History at the University of São Paulo and is the editor of Ludopédio, an online portal of academic works about Brazilian football. His research revolves around the themes of football, racism, xenophobia, migration, memory, and identity.
This podcast was produced by Maria Martha Bruno. She is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.
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