“It had to be a black”: Brazilians use racist insults after player’s error in opening World Cup match

Marcelo - own goal - June 12, 2014

Note from BW of Brazil: You really have to love the internet. Well, not always…The World Wide Web can be both a blessing and a curse depending on how its used. In the following case, I count two reasons why it’s a good thing and one bad. 1) It’s good because people have the opportunity to express themselves and share their feelings with the world, 2) For people who do research or simply want to know how others are feeling about a certain topic, it comes in handy. On the negative side, people can use the internet to share negative feelings which can border on hatred, racism, sexism, etc. Of course, there’s more positives and negatives that one could come up with, but you get the picture. 

In this quick post, we are focusing on the negative repercussions that occurred after a certain incident in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and tying it in to the common theme of racism. Early in the game, Brazil’s left back Marcelo accidentally kicked the ball into the goal defended by his own goalie, giving the Croatia team the first score of the opening game. If you didn’t happen to see it, below is a six second clip of the play. 

So what does this play on the soccer field have to do with race? Well, after Marcelo’s error, certain people took to their Twitter accounts to blast him for his error and basically blame it on his race. Now while there’s no way to prove how the people who tweeted these comments would react if confronted with the racist tone of their comments, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that they would deny their comments being racist. Remember, 92% of Brazilians say they know racism exists in Brazil but only 1.3% admit that they themselves are racists. Keep this in mind as you read the story below and BW of Brazil will chime in later. 

“It had to be a black”: Marcelo suffers racism after scoring an own goal

The phrase was used by Twitter users to criticize the lateral for the play that defined Croatia’s only goal in the first game of the 2014 World Cup

Courtesy of Terra Esportes

Web users made racist remarks to criticize the lateral's error
Web users made racist remarks to criticize the lateral’s error

Despite the 3-1 victory, the debut of the Brazilian team in the 2014 World Cup generated a negative repercussion on social networks. In the play that defined the only goal of Croatia in the duel, the ball deflected by the Croatian Jelavic touched the foot of Brazilian lateral Marcelo and went straight to the back of goalie Júlio César’s net. After the play, web users used Twitter to attack the athlete with racist comments containing the phrase, “tinha que ser preto,” meaning, “it had to be a black.”

“Take that Marcelo off the field. Then you will say I’m a racist, but it had to be a black,” said one user. “It had to be a black to tarnish the name of Brazil,” reinforced the other. “It had to be a black. Then he complains about racism, but only does shit,” said one of the Twitter users. “Se fosse branco não faria uma merda dessas”, meaning, “If he was white he would not do that shit,” commented another.

Some tweeters reproduced comments made by family members after the play. “Was he the one who scored the own goal? It had to be a black! (people, can someone hold my mother back?)”, published one of them.

Superstar Neymar celebrates one of his two goals in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup
Superstar Neymar celebrates one of his two goals in the opening game of the 2014 World Cup

Despite the racist majority, there were users who mentioned the term to defend Marcelo and condemn prejudice. “So the fans have said ‘it had to be a black’ on Marcelo’s goal, but they didn’t say ‘it had to be a black’ on Neymar’s two goals?” questioned one user.

“I’m disgusted with these people who said ‘it had to be a black’ because the guy did an own goal,” lamented another. “This ‘black’s’ socks are worth more than your house, easy,” attacked one tweeter. “Whites also make mistakes,” said another.

Update from BW of Brazil: This just in (June 14, 2014). Brazilian racism never lets up. Found this gem earlier today:

Nilson Antonio - On Marcelo - cabelo

Translation: Marcelo’s own goal: never trust in anyone with bad hair

Note from BW of Brazil: In case you didn’t know how popular the phrase “cabelo ruim” (bad hair) is, check other posts here. Now back to the original post…

I will also point that one of the tweets also refers to Marcelo (1) as a “viado”, meaning faggot, while another comment repeats the “it had to be a black” phrase followed in parentheses by “nada contra”, meaning, “nothing against (them)”. I love how people like to attach a disclaimer before of after their racist statement to try to somehow defend themselves as they know how their statements will mostly likely be received. 

As this blog pointed out in a recent post discussing how racism functions in Brazil, as long as Afro-Brazilians “stay in the their place” and don’t make errors, the society will pretend to tolerate them and get along with them like “one big mixed race family”. But the minute they do make an error or are in social areas where it is perceived that they don’t belong, persons who are or consider themselves to be white are quick to insult them with a racist taunt, all the while the country continues to proclaim, “we Brazilians aren’t racists” or “we are all equal”, etc. This bizarre, contradictory attitude is what sociologist Florestan Fernandes labeled “prejudiced against being prejudiced.” In other words, these people clearly know that their sentiments, actions and statements are in fact racist, but as Brazil has long been promoted as a “racial democracy”, they can/will never admit it. 

The funny thing here is that other Brazilians also perceived the schizophrenic nature of Brazilian racism. Here are few of those comments…

Marcelo - Twitter comments - June 12, 2014 (3-E)

English translations

Igor: Funny how we went from “We are all monkeys” to “It had to be a black” so quickly. Marcelo: Equally to the most racist Clanessas timelines after Marcelo’s own goal such cretins post “it had to be a black” and “there is no racism”, Pablo: Meanwhile, racism on Twitter when Marcelo made an own goal. I bet that many of these (people) tweeted #We are all monkeys.

Note from BW of Brazil: These three short tweets are exactly the point. Two made references to the popular “somos todos macacos” (we are all monkeys) slogan that went viral on the internet after a racist incident involving Barcelona’s Brazilian ace Dani Alves back in April. As we pointed out in a post dealing with the popularity of that slogan, it does nothing to open a serious discussion about racism. In reality, it minimizes the problem as it, one, gives whites who don’t even really care about the issue a means of fooling themselves and others into believing they support the anti-racist struggle, two, allows them to continue harboring racist sentiments and three, these same people, if they are indeed white, will not be victimized by someone referring to them as monkeys.  The phrase “it had to be a black” is another of many well-known racist phrases that most Brazilians are familiar with and as the second tweet points out, in a Brazil that still can’t deal with its own racism, it wouldn’t be surprising if the same person who used this phrase would also be the first to yell out “não existe racismo no Brasil” or “racism doesn’t exist in Brazil.” 

The funny thing about how racist beliefs function is the fact that, globally, whites have and are associated with power. As such, one must ask, why is it that when white people make errors (and they do as does any person of the human race), no one ever says “it had to be a white”? The very nature of this mentality smacks of white supremacy. In regards to Brazil, white people have run the country since day one, and as such, would logically be those at fault if citizens don’t like the country’s social situation. It would be nice if those Brazilians who believe “it had to be a black” thought about this the next time they booed their white president

Source: Terra Esportes, Black Women of Brazil


1. It’s worth pointing out the fact that Marcelo and many other black Brazilian players have been victims of racist insults and gestures for a number of years, both in Brazil and other countries, particularly in European stadiums.

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


  1. Brazil is one Fk’ed up Country. How such a corrupt, ignorant, racist, 3rd world country came to host the Olympics is beyond belief to millions. It’s a jungle, full of immoral savages. Just read the latest racist attack on Marcelo. It’s good to see how they show their true colors to the whole world. Keep it up Brazil, the world is watching!

    • Regina, I am just as frustrated as you are with those racist comments. My blood is boiling right now. Brazil seems to have its fair share of bigots; however, other countries are just as racist when it comes to soccer. Italy, England, and a host of European countries show their true selves all the time. Some fans through bananas at the the players. Other just call them insulting racial slurs. Yes Brazil has its fair share of hate; its not isolated to them though.

      • Difference is Europe is a VERY White place, right? Being that Brazil has a Black and mixed majority, it makes even less sense that the country would be one of the most racist in the world. I have left Brazil for good. I will never step my foot on that shithole for as long as the Whites remain racists and Blacks take it up their butts while singing a samba song. Bunch of lunatics.

    • Yes… Good that the next World Cup will be held in Russia, a country traditionally very open and welcoming for blacks, sure. I can’t wait for it.

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