The incidents may seem to be out of step with events over the past month, because by most people’s standards the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been one of the best tournaments in living memory.
As the embodiment of a multi-ethnic society Brazil is not a place one easily associates with issues of discrimination and hate crimes. Although like other societies in Latin America, Brazil faces many challenges that are directly or indirectly related to issues of exclusion because of racial origin, gender, income and class.
Issues inside stadiums
The Fare network looked at issues of discrimination inside stadiums, as an imperative of our own work but also because of FIFA’s stated zero-tolerance stance and ‘No to Racism’ campaign, and the Brazilian governments own campaign and position.
Against this background we noted 14 incidents in which visiting fans brought their own prejudices, attitudes and way of supporting football that we would categorise as discriminatory.
The incidents include homophobic abuse, racism, and references to far- right ideologies.
We also noted that some European fan groups displayed far-right banners at prominent public places and tourist spots. One such example was a Russian banner displayed near the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.
Reporting not an end in itself
Reporting incidents is not an end in itself but a way of increasing understanding and educating fan groups, the general public and football associations.
There was not a specific mechanism for collecting data for FIFA to deal with at this World Cup. The Fare network did not operate an observer scheme inside stadiums and there were no other monitoring systems in place. Had there been a system to monitor such issues a more accurate picture could have emerged.
Fare Executive Director Piara Powar commented on the report,
“The 2014 World Cup has been everything we imagined it could be. But even in the heady environment of Brazil there have been incidents of discrimination and hate crimes inside stadiums.
Perpetuated by far-right groups and ignorance
“The incidents we recorded were very real and in many cases extremely serious, some perpetrated by far-right groups from Europe and others the result of the ignorance of ordinary fans.
“It is a shame that FIFA seems to have turned a blind eye to the incidents. We trust that in future a system of dealing with these issues will be put in place because without understanding the reality of the situation, it is impossible to educate and work with people.”