The city is home to one of the largest African-descendent populations outside of Africa (80% of its total population), is known for its diverse culture. However, growing numbers of reports have highlighted deep rooted problems of social exclusion and segregation.
Salvador da Bahia was the first capital of Brazil, between 1549 and 1763. It was also the first slave market in the New World, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations from 1558.
The original indigenous population of Bahia state were the Gé people. The Gé were pushed out by a people called the Tupinambá, who were the residents when the first Europeans arrived.
On Thursday (26 June), the State Government, alongside its Secretary for Racial Equality and for World Cup issues, launched a booklet to promote a debate around racial discrimination and enlighten the general public on the topic.
‘A legacy that will remain once the World Cup is over’
“The booklet is being distributed in and outside football stadiums, on match and non match days. With this, we want to show to everyone that racism and football do not go along together.” said the Bahia State Secretary, Ney Campello.
“People’s awareness of racism is a legacy that will remain once the World Cup is over.” he added.
The ‘Copa sem racismo’ (World Cup without racism) booklet gives a context of racism in football, definition of racism, legal information on the issue and contact numbers of anti-racism organisations to help fans, tourists and Salvador’s citizens report abuse.
Hélio Santos, a University lecturer, explained that for many years Brazil looked up to European football as an example. At the time few black players were signed by teams or selected for the national team, a situation that only started to shift in the 1960’s when players, including Pele and Mané Garrincha, became national heroes.
“There were very few black players in the national team and we almost didn’t have any black goalkeepers. I can only name two, one in the 50s and one in the 90’s, Dida,” he said.
“Nowadays, the majority of our players are Afro-descendents, but even so, we still have situations of discrimination in the game. Fans still discriminate players based on their race and we want to stop this. For that reason, initiatives as this one and other awareness-raising actions in and outside football are extremely important.”
In December 2013, the Sate of Bahia inaugurated the Nelson Mandela center against Racism and Religious Intolerance an information and reporting discrimination point for racial discrimination.
Since then, several seminars and debates have been organised in the centre addressing discrimination and religious intolerance ahead of the World Cup.
FIFA, Brazil and Rio government campaigns
Other anti-discrimination messages at the World Cup include a social media campaign from FIFA with a message of #SayNoToRacism. The Quarter Finals of the competition on the 4 and 5 July will be dedicated to the campaign.
The Brazilian government also have a social media campaign under the hashtag #CopaSemRacismo (World Cup without racism) consisting of a series of anti-racism football related pictures and a video.
The government of the state of Rio has been focusing on the promotion of human rights and diversity to bring about cultural understanding between people during the World Cup period.