Brazil: 2014 FIFA World Cup-Race and Class

June 11, 2014

Athletics, International

Brazil: 2014 FIFA World Cup
World Cup Stadium

In  2010 Brazil’s census showed African-Brazilians (people with African native blood) in the majority for the first time officially.

The were 97 million Brazilians, or 50.7% of the county’s population, now defining themselves as black, compared with 91 million or 47.7% who label themselves white. Brazil has the largest population with of African descent outside of Africa. The enslavement of Africans was not abolished until 1888, just 12 years before 1900.

In 2013  United States Census Bureau estimated that there were 43.9 million blacks/African Americans. The projected black/African American population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for
July 1, 2060 is estimated to reach 77.4 million.
Race, Class and the World Cup in Brazil

By Mike LaSusa
Global Research

The Brazilian government and big business wanted the World Cup very badly. But the people wanted better public services – especially the majority that identify as non-white. “Government studies have shown that people who identify as black or brown make incomes that are less than half those of their white counterparts and they are much more likely to lack access to basic services like security, education, healthcare and sanitation.”

“The police have chased the poor away from the beaches and hotels and shopping districts back to the slums.”

At 5:00 pm local time on June 12, 2014 the national soccer teams of Brazil and Croatia will kick off the 2014 World Cup at the São Paulo Arena in Brazil’s largest city. The players will compete before a live crowd of tens of thousands and a televised audience of millions more.

At a total cost of roughly $11 billion – and at least eight workers’ lives – Brazil will host the most expensive World Cup in history. Though this is not to understate the scandalous unfolding atrocity in Qatar). Brazilians overwhelmingly supported bringing the event to their country when FIFA awarded them the honor in 2007 (no other nation in the Americas volunteered), but a recent poll from DataFolha indicates that a majority of citizens now oppose it.

Widespread anti-Cup protests have been roiling Brazil’s cities and social media networks for months. The demonstrators’ grievances range from public transportation fare hikes to inadequate wages, housing, education, security and healthcare, among other things. But as evidenced by their use of the slogan “Não vai ter Copa!” (“There will be no Cup!”), it is clear that they intend to use the lavish international spectacle both as a symbol of their concerns and a spotlight to shine on them.

On June 3, a group of anti-Cup activists inflated giant soccer balls in the capital city Brasilia. Protest organizer Antonio Carlos Costa told Agence France Presse, ”We want the Brazilian government to ask the nation’s forgiveness because it promised something it never delivered. It invested a fortune of public money in things that weren’t necessary.” A recent Pew poll found that 61% of respondents believed hosting the World Cup is a ”bad thing” “because it takes money away from public services.”

Not all of the protests have been peaceful. AFP interviewed one of a growing number of so-called “Black Bloc” activists, who went by the pseudonym Elizabeth:

Black Bloc is not a formal group, she says, but “a tactic for action that anyone can join.”

During the past year’s protests its adherents have destroyed banks, trashed public property, thrown petrol bombs and attacked police with stones and clubs.

But Elizabeth says that is merely “a reaction to violence by the police, who always hit first.”

The government response to the outpouring of protests, strikes, and strike threats over recent months and weeks by various segments of society – from airline employees, teachers and homeless workers to police and even the main federal employee’s union – has consisted largely of either ignorant denialism or harsh intimidation and repression. Amidst this unrest, the administration of President Dilma Rousseff has made repeated assurances to the international community that – despite still-unfinished stadia, like the one that will host the opening match in São Paulo, and numerous incomplete infrastructure projects – the Cup will go off as planned.

“A recent Pew poll found that 61% of respondents believed hosting the World Cup is a ‘bad thing’ ‘because it takes money away from public services.’”

A particularly representative series of events unfolded on June 5, one week before kickoff. While Dilma and FIFA president Joseph Blatter expressed their confidence in Brazil’s ability to put on the “Cup of all Cups,” thousands of homeless workers marched peacefully on the São Paulo Arena as police clashed with striking subway workers nearby. One of the strikers reportedly told a police officer, “Put the gun down. There are only workers here. We’re workers just like you.”

That same day at a concert in the city, the audience cursed out Dilma over her handling of the World Cup preparations and popular rapper Marcelo Falcão told the crowd the following:

“The legacy that comes with this Cup is a very vile one…[W]e love soccer, but for the first time we have to be honest…In all reality [society] doesn’t have the necessary health, education and all it needs in terms of security and transportation, amongst other things…I am standing by the entire country who wanted something good…If it’s not good, I’m not going to [applaud].”

This level of discontentment is remarkable given the complex and deeply-rooted cultural and political history of soccer in Brazil, especially with regard to race and class. As former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva said without hyperbole when his country was chosen as the future host of the world’s most-watched sporting event in 2007, ”Soccer is more than a sport for us, it’s a national passion.”

O Jogo Bonito

In 1888, around the same time that soccer was introduced to Brazil by upper-class British expatriates, it became the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery. After importing approximately 40% of the African people who were kidnapped and shipped to the Americas during that era, the post-abolition government subsidized a racial miscegenation program known as “branqueamento” (“whitening”) that brought an influx of working-class immigrants from various European countries to Brazil during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These white European laborers introduced to Brazil’s black and brown working class what soccer demi-god Pelé would later call “o jogo bonito“ (“the beautiful game”).

It should be mentioned that unlike the post-abolition United States, Brazil did not enforce a system of legal segregation or discrimination after it did away with slavery. Race in Brazil has been defined socially, by appearance, not legally or officially, by heritage. As Thomas Skidmore wrote in his 1992 essay ”Fact and Myth: Discovering a Racial Problem in Brazil;”

The result was a system of social stratification that differed sharply from the rigid color bifurcation in the U.S. (both before and after slavery) and in Europe’s African colonies. There was and is a color…spectrum on which clear lines were often not drawn. Between a “pure” black and a very light mulatto there are numerous gradations, as reflected in the scores of racial labels (many pejorative) in common Brazilian usage.

Echoing Roberto Damatta‘s 1991 discourse on Brazilian society’s classist and racist “authoritarian rituals,” Joaquim Barbosa, the first black judge to sit on the country’s Supreme Federal Court, put it more simply, but still poignantly, for The Guardian in 2012; “Racism in Brazil is well hidden, subtle and unspoken…It is nevertheless extremely violent.”

For years, soccer in Brazil had been enjoyed almost exclusively by wealthy, mostly British elites, but the sport’s simplicity made it an accessible activity for poor laborers with very little disposable income. The formation of recreational clubs and leagues in the first decades of the 20th century was actually encouraged and sometimes financially supported by employers who were happy to have their workers playing and watching soccer rather than organizing with the radical socialist and anarchist groups that were emerging around that time.

With the active encouragement of the capital-owning class and without any other sports to compete with it, soccer rapidly became the country’s national pastime. In 1923, more than two decades before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in American baseball, the Vasco de Gama soccer club in Rio de Janeiro fielded a team consisting primarily of black and mixed-race athletes. The squad went on to win the city championship that year, breaking the color line in Brazilian soccer with emphasis.

As Joseph A. Page writes in his 1996 ethnography The Brazilians, the sport was inherently “suited to the Brazilian temperament…[of] individual and collective self-expression…Soccer seemed to merge sport and samba,” a traditional style of Afro-Brazilian music and dance. For Page, “the improvisational style of Brazilian soccer” derived from “the Brazilian way of overcoming poverty” – a communal effort rooted in mutual reciprocity – a sort of metaphor for the model “Brazilian” political society.

Read entire article:

Stadium Tours

Video: FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil – All Stadiums + Schedule

World Cup Teams
World Cup Teams

Brazil has a population of 202,656,788 (July 2014 est.) compared to the United States who has a population of 318,892,103.
World Cup Host Cities and Stadiums

World Cup Cities

Belo Horizonte, MG
Estádio Mineirão
City Population: 2,375,444 (rank 6)
Metro: 5,487,000
Video: World Cup Host City: Belo Horizonte


Brasília, DF
Estádio Nacional
City Population: 2,562,963 (rank 4)
Metro: 3,813,000
Video: World Cup Host City: Brasília


Cuiabá, MT
Arena Pantanal
City Population: 550,562 (rank 34)
Video: World Cup Host City: Cuiabá


Curitiba, PR
Arena da Baixada
City Population: 1,746,896 (rank 8)
Metro: 3,188,000

Fortaleza, CE
Estádio Castelão
City Population: 2,551,806 (rank 5)
Metro: 3,591,000
Video- World Cup Host City: Fortaleza


Manaus, AM
Arena da Amazônia
City Population: 1,802,525 (rank 7)
Metro: 1,848,000
Video- World Cup Host City: Manaus


Natal, RN
Arena das Dunas
City Population: 806,203 (rank 20)
Metro: 1,293,000
Video: World Cup Host City: Natal


Porto Alegre, RS
Estádio Beira-Rio
City Population: 1,409,939 (rank 10)
Metro: 3,933,000
Video: World Cup Host City: Porto Alegre


Recife, PE
Arena Pernambuco
City Population: 1,536,934 (rank 9)
Metro: 3,733,000
Video: World Cup Host City: Recife


Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Estádio do Maracanã
City Population: 6,323,037 (rank 2)
Metro: 11,960,000
Video- World Cup Host City: Rio de Janeiro


Salvador, BA
Arena Fonte Nova
City Population: 2,676,606 (rank 3)
Metro: 4,061,000
Video- World Cup Host City: Salvador


São Paulo, SP
Arena de São Paulo
City Population: 11,244,369 (rank 1)
Metro: 19,924,000
Video: World Cup Host City: São Paulo


World Cup Groups
Group A and B Group C and D Group E and F Group G and H

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