Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has publicly condemned two recent incidents in which figures from Brazilian football were racially abused.
In a sequence of messages on Twitter published on Sunday, Ms Rousseff said that Brazilian football had been ‘stained’ by last week’s events, and that racism was ‘inadmissible’ in the world’s biggest black population outside Africa.
Marcos Arouca da Silva, a defensive midfielder for Santos football club known as “Arouca”, made headlines last Thursday when football fans at a game between Santos and rivals Mogi Mirim hurled abuse at him, chanting “macacão” or “big monkey”.
On Friday the São Paulo Football Federation banned Mogi Mirim from hosting games at their stadium, the “Romildão”, until an investigation into the incident – and any subsequent disciplinary process – has been concluded.
Arouca later released a statement labelling the episode as “unacceptable”, emphasizing that there was “no place” in football for racism.
In a second incident last week, referee Márcio Chagas reported he had been subject to a racist attack following a game in the country’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.
“Márcio and Arouca have all my solidarity, and that of all Brazilians. It is inadmissible that Brazil, the biggest black nation outside Africa, should live with scenes of racism,” President Rousseff wrote on her official Twitter account.
She continued: “Let’s stand up to racism! I have agreed with the UN and FIFA that our #WorldCupofWorldCups will also be a #Cup for Peace and a #CupAgainstRacism.”
Football racism also made the headlines in Brazil earlier in February, when fans at a Copa Libertadores match between Brazilian club Cruzeiro and Peru’s Real Garcilaso chanted “monkey” at black Brazilian midfielder Paulo César Fonseca, better known as “Tinga”, in the Peruvian city of Huancayo.
In a little over three months Brazil will begin hosting this year’s edition of the World Cup in twelve host cities spread across South America’s largest country, whose 200 million-strong population is one of the most racially-mixed in the world.
This includes the Bahian city of Salvador, where 27.8% of the population is black and 51.7% mixed race, according to the country’s most-recent 2010 census.
Sunday also saw the ninth World Cup stadium being inaugurated in the Amazonas state capital, Manaus. Three other stadiums – in Cuiabá, Curitiba and São Paulo – have yet to be finished and have caused serious concern for World Cup organizers FIFA.
Story written for Anadolu Agency