[…] This in a country with the biggest population of African descent outside of Africa. Brazil is sold internationally as a rainbow nation, as close to a racial democracy as any country can get. To some degree it’s true; for all its sheer size and diversity there are no ethnic or religious conflicts and everyone speaks the same language. Socially, though, it’s a different story. The government hoped to use the World Cup to showcase the country’s cultural diversity and thriving democracy in all its splendour, but all it did was to highlight the deep-rooted prejudices and inequalities in this nation of 200 million.
So, in a piece of land where 60% of the population is black or mixed, why then, during one of the most important single events in its history, is the absence of those 60% so conspicuous?
Brazilians have always had a peculiar attitude towards race. This was the country’s football superstar, Neymar, four years ago, when asked if he had ever been a victim of racism. „Never. Neither inside nor outside the field. Because I’m not black, right?“
The players of the national team are clearly mostly black or mixed race (including Neymar): many though, dye their hair blond (including Neymar). Other Brazilian sporting heroes have equally dismissed the issue of race in the past. Ronaldo has also denied his black heritage, and the country’s biggest football icon, Pele, is too busy doing commercials to say anything meaningful on the issue.