Observatório report highlights racism in Brazilian football

Observatório report highlights racism in Brazilian football

Text kindly provided by Fare Network

A new report on discrimination in Brazilian football, published on the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), is presenting the first monitoring data on racist and discriminatory incidents in the country.

The statistics, which have been collated by the Observatório da Discriminação Racial no Futebol from January until December 2014, revealed a total of 20 incidents of racism in Brazilian domestic football, eight targeting Brazilian players outside the country and nine discriminatory incidents at the World Cup.

The report, produced out of the need to document and understand the extent of discrimination in Brazilian football, comes after the Fare ‘Time for Action‘ study on discrimination in Russian football and looks not only at the incidents but also consequent sanctions, making a series of recommendations to address the problem.

Racial discrimination in Brazil
In 2014, with the spotlight on the World Cup, Brazil promised to hold an event free of racism. Football governing bodies and the Brazilian Federal Government, as well as several other local initiatives, launched awareness-raising campaigns ahead and during the tournament.

The efforts to refrain discrimination from stadiums came after a series of racist incidents hit Brazilian football earlier into the year and pressured authorities to act.


Racism incidents were recorded during the São Paulo state championship, in a match between Mogi Mirim and Santos.

The report explains: “Brazil was considered for many years a ‘Racial Democracy‘, a term used to describe an harmonious relationship between races that also portrayed how Brazilians didn’t see themselves as racist.

“However, this idea was put down when a UN report, launched in September 2014, defined Brazil as a place where racism is institutionalised.”

Brazil, as well as other societies in Latin America, faces several exclusion challenges based of racial origin, gender, income and class.

A 2012 Economist article read: “The hardest task is to change attitudes. Many Brazilians simply assume blacks belong at the bottom of the pile. Supporters of affirmative action are right to say that the country turned its back on the problem.”

Breakdown of the incidents
In 2014, the Observatório da Discriminação Racial no Futebol report listed 20 racist incidents in and outside Brazilian stadiums, among these the Brazilian states of Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo witnessed the highest number of cases, 5 and 4 respectively. A total of 11 out of the country’s 27 states, saw racist incidents make place in its stadiums.

Out of the 20 incidents, 19 were noted on stadiums and one on Instagram. Among these, seven were sanctioned by the Brazilian FA Disciplinary Court, two by Brazil’s Superior Court of Sport (STJD), and in other cases sanctions were either imposed by the club, the police or the company the perpetrator was working for. The proceedings on other three cases are still ongoing.

According to the report, the most common sanction imposed were fines, varying between €11.000 and €1.400.

Two Brazilian clubs saw their points deducted over fans’ racism, club Esportivo and Grêmio.

Outside Brazil, the study registered eight cases involving Brazilian players playing in countries including Mexico, Spain, Japan, Russia, Romania and Ukraine, or international club competition matches, such as the Copa Libertadores encounter between Real Garcilaso and Cruziero, in which Cruzeiro player Tinga was racially abused by a group of Peruvian fans.

Some of the racist practices highlighted within the report on both domestic and international matches include monkey chants, remarks and cries, racist abuse and the throwing of bananas towards players.

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Observatório noted nine incidents prepetrated by groups of fans from Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Spain and Poland. The discriminatory practices registered included homophobic chants, racist songs and racist, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi banners.

Recommendations for future action
Observatório da Discriminação Racial no Futebol is an anti-discrimination campaign, launched in the Summer of 2014, that monitors and reports discriminatory behaviour in Brazilian football through social media.


Racism report has let to clubs taking part of #NoToRacism awareness campaigns.

In September, the campaign successfully organised a seminar on racism in football featuring the former Brazilian international Tinga, the Rio Grande do Sul federation, experts and ethnic minority groups.

The recently-launched report is the first systematic analysis on racism in Brazilian football and makes a series of recommendations for clubs, regional governments and football authorities to raise awareness of and tackle discrimination.

These include: a CBF (Brazilian FA) manual for clubs, players, referees and others on how to deal with discrimination; stronger action from clubs to punish discrimination; a growing engagement of fans and fan groups on awareness-raising activities and other social interventions; encourage the report of discrimination; the development of a governmental action plan to address all forms of discrimination through education and sport.

Read the full report in Portuguese here.

The Fare network is an umbrella organisation that brings together individuals, informal groups and organisations driven to combat inequality in football and use the sport as a means for social change.