World Cup: Although Brazil’s team has many black stars, the fans in the stands are whiter than Norway

Brazilian fans at opening match of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A game
Brazilian fans at opening match of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A game

Note from BW of Brazil: So by now everyone knows that the long anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil has begun with the host team opening with a convincing 3-1 victory over Croatia in the Itaquerão stadium in São Paulo. As was also anticipated, superstar Neymar’s star shined even brighter as he marked two of the home team’s goals and entered the top ten list of all-time Brazilian scorers for the seleção, Brazil’s National Team. Also in typical fashion, Brazilians presented another example of the racism that everyone wants to deny but that remains part of the national character. Although the score may have been 3-1 in favor of the home team, in reality, the Brazilians scored all four goals in the game if one counts the own goal accidentally scored by Marcelo. Consistent with beliefs that only blacks make mistakes because of their race, Brazilians took to Twitter and blasted the preto (black) Marcelo for his error

An image that was even more evident of how race works in Brazil were the various shots of the crowd in Itaquerão. Sure, over the past decade or so, policies have attempted to diversify more areas of a Brazilian society dominated by the presence of persons who look as if their racial origins are purely European. As the excitement for the game reached a peak, the overwhelming whiteness of the crowd was hard to miss. As André Barcinski put it:

“If racial and cultural integration of Brazil was the main theme of the opening party, this was not reflected in the stands. The stadium was whiter than Norway. Finding a black person among the spectators was a difficult task.”

Children release doves into the air
Children release doves into the air

Minutes before the game started, three children, one black, one white, one Indian, representing the origins of the Brazilian people, entered the field to release doves into the air, but one was hard pressed to find such diversity in the stands. In reality, this shouldn’t come as a surprise as in July of 2013 we covered the same issue at the Confederations Cup, also held in Brazil as well as in the official World Cup commercial and the controversy behind the selection of the World Cup Final Draw couple. In the end, one could argue that the camera did show the pride of the Brazilian people,well,  at least the European part. 

Black players, white spectators

The relationship between racial tensions (or strains) and futebol in Brazil is extensive

by Antonio Jiménez Barca with Leonardo Sakamoto


In 1914, a mulatto player of the elitist futebol club Fluminense, from Rio de Janeiro, to mask the color of his skin, smeared his face with pó de arroz meaning rice powder. In the beginning it was okay. But when he began to sweat, his trick was discovered. The player was forever marked as Pó de Arroz, as well as the club itself. The relationship between racial tensions (or strains) and futebol in Brazil is extensive.

Indeed, many historians and experts who argue that football served precisely to unite the different races that inhabit this country-continent, which is one of the few things we all do together, rich and poor, white and black, or that everyone watches together. And the seleção (meaning selection or National Team) would be the high point of this feeling of brotherhood over colors. Yes, but there are also those who say that in 1950, the goalie Barbosa, being black, was unfairly blamed for taking the definitive Ghiggia goal in the unfortunate Maracanazo. If he were white, he would have been forgiven. In the video on YouTube, we can prove that the action of Barbosa was neither a huge mistake, nor can even be categorized as an error. But tell that to the poor goalie who carried throughout life, until his death in 2000, the immense guilt of having served as an instrumental of disgrace. Even in the supermarkets he was pointed out with the finger: “Look, daughter, the man who made Brazil cry,” once said the mother to her daughter in the presence of the afflicted Barbosa.

Pelé, Garrincha and other redeemed their race and turned the Brazilian team in a mestiço (mixed race) and perfect machine capable of fabricating the best futebol in history. Since then, the seleção of Brazil was a faithful radiography of the society where over half the population is negro or mulatto.

And so it was more or less the team that entered Thursday in the Itaquerão stadium and defeated Croatia thanks to Neymar and a referee armed with the spray of a graffiti artist.

Fans at opening of World Cup
Fans at opening of World Cup

However, the stands were filled with thousands and thousands of white Brazilians, almost all white, the ones who, in their majority, have money in this country to pay admission, the ones that in general in this country, go to the movies, theater, exhibitions or to the best restaurants, those that dominate the best opportunities…

Six players on the Brazilian seleção: Dani Alves, Hulk, Thiago Silva, Luiz Gustavo Dias, Ramires and Marcelo
Six players on the Brazilian seleção: Dani Alves, Hulk, Thiago Silva, Luiz Gustavo Dias, Ramires and Marcelo

On the field it was easy: Marcelo, Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, Hulk, Ramires….But look at the photos of the match and try to find a black person among the public of the stadium, dressed in yellow, cheering with elation for their seleção. Try to find some black who was not watching everyone’s seleção on television, from the outside.

The large television known as the telão in São Paulo attracts a much more diverse crowd
The large television known as the telão in São Paulo attracts a much more diverse crowd

Note from BW of Brazil: Along these lines, the same sentiments were expressed by blogger Leonardo Sakamoto who notes that the images of the audiences in these games that are being transmitted around the world are not the face of the fans of the regular season games seen throughout the year. Those fans, most of whom simply couldn’t afford tickets, were be found in bars or in front of movie theater-sized public televisions around the country. 

Fans 2

Those accustomed to going to series A and B Brazilian championship games…with squadrons of Brazilians and Bolivians may find it strange when viewing the almost monochrome bleachers in the World Cup.

Please do not get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to have fun.

But as we have more rich whites than rich blacks here (a totally random fact since they “are not racist”) one might expect that this happen. Moreover, considering the stabbing that buying a ticket directly with FIFA or via the sacred institution of the peddler could be.

Listening to the radio, the announcer stated: “Look how wonderful! It’s the Brazilian family returning to the stadiums.” In fact, a specific type of family: that of a margarine commercial. For the World Cup games are a time in which the space-time fabric is torn and everything attains faces of a parallel universe – irrigated to a lot of public money and heavy actions to keep the “dangerous classes”’ away. When in doubt, bomb them.

Fans watching World Cup match on large television
Fans watching World Cup match on large television

Particularly I think the most nefarious immediate consequence of the presence of spectators who don’t regularly frequent the stadiums is that it doesn’t push the team as needed.

Just affirming that, in the stadium, was not the “Brazilian fans.” Not by far! The fans that come rain or shine, win or lose, is there supporting his team, live, however mediocre it is. These people, which helps our futebol to be what it is, deserve to be better represented in the Itaquerão stands.

Source: El País Brasil, R7, Blog do Sakamoto

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. I noticed the crowds in the stadium, before I was looking for a mixture of ethnicities but coming across this site I have learned I shouldn’t expect such. It is what it is unfortunately…

  2. Why is this unique to Brazil? African-Americans are grossly outnumbered by White fans at NFL, NBA or MLB games. Some of it can be blamed on being only 13% of the population nationally. Another reason is lack of wealth; blacks with the money will go to games but as I said, they are small in number overall.

    Not sure what value there is to point out that the majority of fans in Sao Paulo are White when the Sao Paulo metro area is dominated by White skinned Brazilians.

    • What you are saying is true,but you’re missing the point. Brazil always promotes itself as racism free country where everyone is equal,and have equal opportunity,if that was the case there would be more Black people with the purchasing power to go the the cup.You also don’t watch the national league during the regular season.If you watch a Bahia vs Vitoria game for example.The racial demographics are way much different.There are also games taking place in Salvador where the majority is Black yet the stadiums during the cup are all White.

    • Sounds like a news article written or promoted by the Jewish media to cause race tensions. Jews love to promote diversity and race mixing in every culture but theirs.

  3. @Anthony Thomas (@djfourmoney). First, where in the article did you read anything about this being unique? What is the point? It is simply a show of how inequality works in Brazil. Period. Second, in terms of the population in Sao Paulo, your stats are off. Afro-Brazilians represent about 35% of the population. I have to agree with skateboardstephen on his comment. The point of the blog is to bring news to the English-speaking world that may be hidden or glossed over by the media. Brazilians like to present the country in a very contradictory manner that doesn’t match the reality. This is the point.

    • Are you counting all Pardo (mixed-race) people in São Paulo as “Afro-Brazilian”? That’s very misleading if that’s what you’re doing. Brazil doesn’t follow the “one drop of blood” guideline that that U.S. historically has. To be considered black in Brazil usually means that you have very dark skin. Dani Alves and Thiago Silva are not considered black in Brazil, contrary to what the author claims.

    • yawn…why don’t you become less of a coward and say that out in real life? If not, continue being a waste of humanity. There are more and more blacks around the world not falling for the demeaning lies the world spews at them about who they are and their worth. Keep focusing so much attention on those who are supposedly beneath you. Makes a lot of sense…not…

  4. You do realise a lot of the whites in the stadium are not brazilians but fans from elsewhere supporting brazil?

  5. What is idiotic is to think the football team rather than crowds from Brazil to be the benchmark of what we are like. Our football team is more African than the whole population, just like the American dream team or the English team aren’t really representantive of either the US or England. But when it comes to Latin America double standards will always take place.

    It is funny these people ‘being shocked’ at our crowds in the stadiums. Because the way we are portrayed abroad these people wouldn’t exist at all. What were they expecting? The crowds there be like the crowds of Nigeria or South Africa?

    I only wish an impartial collection of our crowds were to be posted. But I have no illusions. Following up the foreing media I do, I just know they are heavily biased against us, just like they are against the Muslim world, China, and everywhere else labelled as ‘non western’.

    Have a look at genetic studies, they tell the real deal. Brazil is overwhelmingly non african genetically (over 70% usually). We are very wrongly portrayed as I have said.

    • Actually, I HAVE followed several of the genetic studies over the years and I’ve come to the following conclusions or questions:

      1) Genetic studies have been shown to not be 100% accurate. A woman in an American university questioned the very validity of the DNA test results that were divulged in Henry Louis Gates’s “African-American Lives” documentary, for example. But you never hear about the undercurrent voices of dissent because they go against the grain of what the establishment accepts as true and therefore, in turn, influences society to accept such results as 100% true.

      2) I have studied Sergio Pena’s studies as well. My question would be this. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I have a few questions. a) in 2004, he estimated that about half of all Brazilians carried about 90% African DNA and that 86% of all Brazilians carried at 10% African DNA. How do you explain the extreme opposite result of the later study? In my second question I will use the example of Bahia. In his studies of that state, it shows that the preto/pardo population has a high percentage of European genes, something like the 70% you are quoting. But my question is this. In the same report, the admixture rates of the “so-called” brancos/whites is still quite low. Proportionally speaking, if Bahia is one of the states that received an enormous amount of African slaves and non-whites always outnumbered Europeans by a large percentage in Bahia, how can pretos and pardos be so mixed and the admixture rates of “brancos”be so low?

      Numerically speaking, considering the 63% non-white population around 1870 and the 4 million European immigrants that arrived between 1870-1940, 70% European DNA simply doesn’t add up to those proportions. For such numbers, it would be understandable if 20 million Europeans entered the country and there were, say, only 5 million non-whites and they continuously mixed. But even in this case, I would think the African DNA of so-called “brancos” would be higher than the 10% or so that he estimated.

      3) If we accept DNA studies to be valid (and as I’ve said, I don’t completely buy them because ALL scientific results can reflect the ideals of what the financiers of the projects wish), and Brazil were an egalitarian society, you would still have a more evenly divided representation of Brazil’s ethnic mixture in all realms of society as well as in the stadiums.

      I’m sure there are quite a few non-white Brazilians who carry 70% European DNA, but for me, overall, the numbers just don’t add up to the point that we can conclude that Brazil as a whole is 70% European. And until someone can explain how it’s possible, I don’t completely accept such results.

      • You speak of a 63% non-white population in 1870, but most of them were mixed-race, i.e. they had some white blood, just in combination with something else. Adding several million 100% white people to this mix (and there has always been a lot of race-mixing in Brazil, even though some frown on it) and it’s not unthinkable that the largest amount now could be white.

  6. Genetic studies address the actual ancestry of Brazilians. Historically, ~75% of the Africans who came to Brazil were males and they had a lower reproductive success, since they were confined to captivity (unfortunately). Besides, they arrived mostly at some locations (Bahia, Rio and Minas) rather than the whole country. It is just natural that the ancestry of Brazilians would be mostly non African. A study from 1965, “Methods of Analysis of a Hybrid Population” (Human Biology, vol 37, number 1), led by the geneticists D. F. Roberts e R. W. Hiorns, found out the average the Northeastern Brazilian to be predominantly European in ancestry (65%), with minor but important African and Native American contributions (25% and 9%). Northern Brazil, Southern Brazil and São Paulo state are much less African than that.

    Nearly all autosomal studies found out that same results (the study by Pena which you mentioned was a extrapolation from a few samples, ~200, from Queixadinha, in Northern Minas Gerais). When samples from all over Brazil were taken, via different methods, and by different researchers, the results were about the same: a very predominant degree of european ancestry, a minor but significant degree of african ancestry, and also native american ancestry.

    I have been to stadiums here all my life, and I’m referring to cheap tickets matches, not World Cup matches. The crowds were always closer to the crowds of our World Cup matches than to our football team. Overall, the population as a whole leans towards Euro, not African. But the foreign media does not care about telling the truth, unfortunately.

    The crowds of the NBA (basketball) matches are very overwhelmingly ‘white’, and the players almost all ‘black’. The same goes to the English and French football teams, and their supporters. But with Latin America it is a different story. We must be portrayed wrongly, we must be talked negatively.

    The purpose of this site is a noble one. Unfortunately women of largely African (usually mixed though) have been historically discriminated, and they deserve a special attention.

    But I think our reality should be portrayed as it is. No more, no less. To say Brazil is a second Nigeria is a gross lie, a gross misrepresenation of what we are.

    Best regards.

    A few thoroughout and recent autosomal DNA studies on Brazil:

    • As I wrote in a previous comment, I’ve followed the DNA reports for some time now. The vast majority that you’ve linked to I had read as they became available. A few things here. 1) One of the reports clearly says that DNA doesn’t necessarily match with the outward physical appearance of the person. Two people for example. Singer Neguinho da Beija Flor was found to carry 67% Euro DNA, gymnast Daiane dos Santos was found to be only 39% African but I don’t think anyone would see them as anything but black. Many of these reports found pretos and pardos to be equally mixed. As such my point is this. When someone enters a bank, a high-class restaurant or upper class club, no one asks them for their DNA report; they are treated according to their phenotype. It is the phenotype that provokes discrimination thus, valid or not (and I remain 50/50 on the issue), it is discrimination and the concept of race that racial discrimination is based on.

      2) With that in mind, regardless of what DNA studies prove or don’t prove, the point is, if DNA percentages don’t necessarily match a person’s appearance, and thus there are persons who look visibly African descendant, they are still not represented in the futebol stadiums. And this is the point of the original question.

  7. I have followed them up to, for decades. As a Brazilian, I am very interested about it. I want to know the truth. And it bothers me when Brazil is misrepresented abroad. Brazil is not half African (Brazil is not a second Nigeria; and half of Brazilians do NOT look like African Americans at all).

    Brazil is European, African and Native American. The overwhelming majority of Brazilian individuals have all these three ancestries. And usually the European + Native American ancestries are >60% in nearly all Brazilian regions. Even in Salvador, they account for 50% of the heritage of the population there.

    Genetic studies, by different researchers, via different methods, and from different countries have arrived at the same conclusions. As I have pointed out, a study from 1965, “Methods of Analysis of a Hybrid Population” (Human Biology, vol 37, number 1), led by the geneticists D. F. Roberts e R. W. Hiorns, found out the average the Northeastern Brazilian to be predominantly European in ancestry (65%), with minor but important African and Native American contributions (25% and 9%). Northern Brazil, Southern Brazil and São Paulo state are much less African than that.

    The majority of Brazilian individuals do not look as African influenced as our football team usually does. Having traveled throughout our country, I must say our crowds in the stadiums during our average tournaments (cheap tickets here) are much more representative of ourselves than the football team. The French, the English, the Colombian, the Ecuadorian football teams, and the American basketball teams, are usually too more African than these countries as a whole are.

    Having said that, the vast majority of Brazilians do have African ancestry (I have it too, ~2% according to 23andme, plus ~2% native american and ~96% european, according to 23andme, with an ancestry almost entirely colonial Brazilian, tracing back to the very first settlers of Brazil and coming from a very poor rural background, from one of our most African regions, Minas Gerais state). And it is a shame that there is still discrimination. Luckily, this has started to change, and I believe affirmative action may help with it.

    Best regards.

    • One, again, you didn’t really address my original point. Two, having traveled to several states in Brazil and in the US, I can say I see a large number of persons I would consider to be Afro-Brazilian and match them physically with persons who I’ve seen who are African-American, Dominican, Jamaican, etc. Even the persons I’ve seen of “mixed blood” look pretty similar throughout the Americas. The difference I would say is that, regardless of what DNA studies say, it is easy to perceive that Brazilians of African descent have more admixture than those in the US. That’s a fact. There are certain physical types in Brazil that one would need to include ALL of the Americas to find a physical match. But what is amazing is that regardless of DNA studies, I often see Brazilians and Americans would look as if they could be twins in terms of color and facial features.Often times, the difference is the hair texture. I’ve spoken to many black Americans who come to Brazil and find the same thing.

      Also, as I’ve said, I’ve read reports of people using such DNA tests from different companies and receiving widely different results. I simply don’t accept the tests as 100% accurate.

    • I can honestly say that ALL of the photos of the women on the blog, all of which can be classified as pardas or pretas, have somewhat of a twin in the US. I can confirm this both through American TV shows and my travels throughout the US. No DNA analysis there, simply vision and opinion.

      Thanks for the discussion!

  8. As I said, half of Brazilians do not look like African Americans (and African Americans are largely mixed too, on average between 70% to 80% African). Go to Ceará, Northern Brazil, Central West Brazil, etc. Phenotypes are like those of Neguinho da Beija-Flor and Daiane dos Santos are extremely rare over there. They are more common really in Rio, Bahia, and Minas Gerais. But even then there is a large segment, particularly in Rio and Minas Gerais, which are are more mixed.

    Genetic studies measure actual ancestry. Everyone knew Brazilians to have Native American ancestry, particularly in some regions. But usually this is forgotten or simply erased when my country is portrayed abroad. It’s either ‘white’ or ‘mulatto’, which is not true at all. In many parts of Brazil, like in Pará or in Maranhão, Native American ancestry can be substantial. On the other hand, the very vast majority of Brazilians are not fully european in ancestry, hence not ‘white’ either, not matter what we look like (the census is also very wrong on this too).

    Nowadays genetics can show ancestry of an individual, so that his heritage cannot be stolen or erased by somebody else. 23andme, an American company which analysed my DNA, f.e, measures over 500000 markers. If the very vast majority of autosomal DNA studies agree on something, it is likely they’re near the ballpark of truth. As I said, 75% of the African sent to Brazil were males, with very short life expectancies (8 to 10 years only), and most of them were sent largely to a few places in Brazil, like coastal Pernambuco, Minas, Rio and Bahia.

    I could post tons of tons of crowd pics from several parts of Brazil. You’d get a true vision of what this country is like. Try looking for crowd pics from Central West Brazil, Northern Brazil, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, they will show you a highly multiracial country. Naming people from Amazonas and Pará as ‘black’, as some are doing, claiming all ‘pardos’ as ‘black’ (as in African Americans), just because they aren’t ‘white’, will not change the reality that their genetic make-up is usually 85%, 90% non African.

    I was born here, I have traveled throughout the whole of Brazil, and I can attest to the truth of what I am saying.

    If it is about to empowering minorities, then one should stick to the truth, and that’s what my message is about. Brazil is generally grossly misrepresented indeed.

    Now, people of largely African ancestry or who are perceived as ‘black’ in the Americas, not only in Brazil, are generally the target of prejudice, and education and affirmative action are necessary to fix it.

    As I said, the purpose of this site is a noble one. The women posted here are beautiful, and hopefully internacional agencies, as well as Brazilian TV networks, etc, will change their attitude and give them a chance, which they deserve.

    Best regards.

    ps My message is not aimed at this site (which is a nice one), but directed to the journalist of major international newspapers, who are quite bigoted, and who don’t miss a country to jab countries which are not perceived as being part of the ‘western world’.

    ps2 I consider African Americans my kin, since they have shared a similar history and I identify with them. I have been to the US, and they have been overall very nice to me, and to Brazilians in general.

    • Agreed. Half of Brazilians DON’T look like any particular world group of African ancestry and I would never assert such.

      What I would say, as I said in the previous message, is that even with miscegenation, I can find white Brazilians who look like white Americans and even Europeans as well as pretos and pardos who look like American blacks and blacks of mixed race.

      I have myself visited several states in Brazil as well as the US and there are clearly many persons who cannot be defined according to one racial category but there are also many of whom the casual (non-Brazilian) viewer will see as primarily black or primarily white.

      Thanks for your comments but DO remember, although we do depend on scientific truth, scientific truth can change depending on new findings and also the source of the funding. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few years from now science tells us they were completely wrong about something they divulged as undisputed fact today!

      Thanks again!

  9. Good post, but whiter than Norway was a bit forced :-). For Norwegians, almost everyone appearing in these photos are black…

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