World Cup: FIFA protects McDonald’s profits while restricting black women selling traditional food items

Baiana protest led to new decision. Photo: Lúcio Távora
Baiana protest led to new decision. Photo: Lúcio Távora

Note from BW of Brazil: With the celebrations, cheers and emotions in full swing with the start of the 2014 World Cup, we cannot lose sight of some of things that are not being said or the things that the corporate-owned media may not want the average fan to know about. We have already seen violent police repression of protesters who believe that the billions of dollars of public funds used in preparation for the games could have been used to address widespread social inequalities in the country. We have also seen poor, primarily black residents being rounded up and thrown out of the areas in which they resided. We have seen the extreme whitewashing of the image of Brazil in World Cup oriented commercials and events. Of course, this is quite normal for Brazil’s broadcasting standards to its national audience, but World Cup games divulge these images to a global audience. 

Baianas pose for photo with tourist
Baianas pose for photo with tourist

In an issue we touched upon last year, we must re-iterate another mechanism used to make citizens and traditional representatives of Brazil’s most African-centered state, Bahia, invisible. If you’ve ever visited Bahia, particularly the capital city of Salvador, you most likely will remember the baiana women in the large, white dresses that greet tourists and serve traditional food stuffs of the region. These women represent a long history in the struggle of black women in Brazil as the sale of these food items often sustained their families, kept a tradition alive as well as the historical image of black Bahia.

Baiana sells acarajé and other traditional foods of Bahia
Baiana sells acarajé and other traditional foods of Bahia

But with billions of of dollars and reais on the table for multi-national companies profiting from the World Cup, FIFA stepped in to make sure that these baianas would not present viable competition for one of the Cup’s sponsors, McDonald’s. So let me get this straight: FIFA protects the rights of a multi-billion dollar corporation to earn more profits while keeping black women who are involved in the local economy, have been there for centuries and will be there long after the Cup is over at a safe distance? The greed here is simply amazing. Anyone who has been to a McDonald’s in the food court area of a shopping mall in Brazil knows that the line at McDonald’s is often the longest of 20-30 different restaurants, some of which offer fresh Brazilian dishes very close to homemade as well as other fast food types (1). Also consider the fact that traditional baiana food cannot compete with the millions McDonald’s spends in advertising to promote it’s product throughout Brazil. But I guess that’s not enough. They don’t want any of members of the community to provide any competition to its profit machine!


Figure this along with two other items of interest. 1) We know that in 76% black Bahia, most residents will not be able to afford the tickets to the games in Salvador (capital city), and 2) No one knows for sure who was to blame for the substitution of a very white couple in place of a well-known black duo for the ceremonial Final Draw, but neither Brazilian officials nor FIFA stepped in to overrule the choice. 

Please keep all of this in mind as you enjoy the Cup. Also, take a look at a promo on media representation featuring a few of the black Brazilian women that Brazil seems to want to hide from the world (maybe because they’re not dancing nearly naked or in the kitchen, a point driven home in a recent piece entitled “The Place of Afro-Brazilian Women in the World Cup”). With all of the behind the scenes going on at the Cup, you can understand why the promo is totally necessary. Below is a short overview of the situation of the baianas…

FIFA liberates presence of Bahian acarajé vendors in World Cup

Baiana do acarajé
Baiana do acarajé

from the A Tarde newsroom

Liberation happens after a series of protests of baiana women

On Wednesday, June 5th, FIFA liberated the presence of baianas de acarajé in the areas surrounding the Arena Fonte Nova (Salvador, Bahia) during the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. Previously, the ban would have occurred due to demands of the sponsors of the competition, which required that commercial competitors remain at least two kilometers (1.24 miles) away from the stadiums.

The presence of baianas on the premises of the stadium has already been discussed for about a year. The release comes after protests organized by quituteiras (sweets vendors), including during the inauguration of the Arena Fonte Nova stadium in April of this year, which saw the participation of President Dilma Rousseff.

Despite the decision, there are some limitations, including the small number of baianas that will have access to the Arena and also the space used for the sale of products, located above the parking garage, accessed only by fans that have tickets.

To enter into enforcement, it lacks a few adjustments so that the authorization of the sale is announced at an event to authorities and representatives of the Associação das baianas de Acarajé e Mingau (Abam or Association of Bahian Acarajé and Porridge).

Baianas request improvements for the World Cup

baianas 3

By Afonso Ferreira

May 27, 2014

In Bahia, acarajé already went through a test to be sold at the Fonte Nova Arena during the Confederations Cup in 2013. According to the president of Abam (Associação das Baianas doAcarajé e Mingau or Association of Baianas of Acarajé and Porridge), Rita Santos, 56, the experience was positive, but she hopes for improvements this year.

She says the tent with six baianas was outside the turnstiles of the access gates to the stadium, which made ​​it impossible for fans to purchase acarajé at the start of the game or at halftime. “I hope that this year FIFA changes this system and allow the fans to come to where we are so we can sell more,” she says.

Rita Santos, president of Abam
Rita Santos, president of Abam

In the Confederations Cup, the price of acarajé was R$8 (US$3.50), a price that will be maintained. The sales and revenue are divided among the baianas. According to Rita Santos, in each of the three games based in Salvador, in 2013, there were about 600 acarajés sold. In a day, one baiana sells 10-50 smaller acarajés priced between R$5 (US$2.20) and R$6 (US$2.64).

Baianas will also have trilingual menus – Portuguese, English and Spanish – to explain to the tourist what acarajé is, according to the coordinator of marketing of Secopa-BA, Márcio Lima. The menu is the same used in the Confederations Cup last year.

Menus available in three languages
Menus available in three languages

Lima said that the installation of the acarajé tents and equipment such as electric ovens and pans were funded by the state. Baianas had to take 140 hour curses about the handling of food, sales and basic English and Spanish.

Tents need proper location, says professor

For professor and consultant of Trevisan Escola de Negócios (Business School), Dalton Viesti, the initiative to sell traditional food in stadiums during the World Cup is positive. However, he says that it’s necessary that baianas and vendors selling tapioca be in a location visible to the circulation of spectators so they can increase their sales.

“It’s no use leaving the stalls outside or in a secluded corner where fans will not have access in the course of the match. Point of sale must be strategically located so that the product has visibility and interest of the public,” he states.

Source: A Tarde, UOL Economia


1. No doubt a contributing factor to exploding obesity rates in Brazil

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


  1. hi there

    can you tell me who owns the copyright of the fantastic Baiana women with the caption ‘Baiana sells acarajé and other traditional foods of Bahia’

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