A deputy from Sao Paulo opens an investigation into racism in football: "The stadium is not a land without law"

A deputy from Sao Paulo opens an investigation into racism in football: “The stadium is not a land without law”

The Sao Paulo Public Ministry has opened a civil investigation to investigate cases of racism and other forms of discrimination in football in Sao Paulo.

The investigation is under the responsibility of Gecradi (Special Group Against Racism and Intolerance Crimes), but it also includes prosecutors from the Office of the Public Prosecutor for Human Rights and Jecrim (Special Criminal Court), which is responsible for cases related to fan law.

The stadium cannot be a place of permissiveness, nor can it be a lawless ground. The activity developed there is a legal cultural origin, but as elsewhere, the law prevails and must be applied in the same terms off the field – says promoter Bruno Orsini, from Gicradi.

The aim of the survey is to understand the drivers of racist actions and what measures have been implemented to prevent them from happening. From there, outline responsibilities and proposals for education and prevention. The investigation period is initially one year.

– (In the end) we hope to follow up with the national associations working in football, the main incentives for the practice of racism in stadiums. From understanding these elements, consider strategies for a look and directed action to overcome these elements. To make the stadium a safe place for everyone who attends it, and especially for vulnerable groups – adds Orsini.

Corinthians fan calls for an end to racism – Photo: Marcos Ripoli

In the investigation’s opening decree, prosecutors cited data from organizations such as the Football Racial Discrimination Monitor. Last week, at an event at the Brazilian Football Confederation, the entity revealed that 64 cases of racism had already been recorded in Brazilian football until August 2022, the same number recorded in the entire previous year. The trend is bullish in these numbers.

– I think that at the moment in which we live, as the population becomes more aware of the harmful effects of racism, the complaints have increased, as people have come to understand that racism cannot be tolerated – says the attorney general.

One of the objectives of the survey is to understand whether there has already been an escalation in the number of cases or if this data was not visible until then, and therefore there was no interest or means to influence this reality.

Currently, the Public Prosecution Office has sent official letters to the Sao Paulo Football Association, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Security questioning the preventive measures and other related measures. Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos and São Paulo have also been informed of the investigation so they can express themselves.

That year, for example, cases of racism were recorded in the stadiums of Corinthians, where Boca Juniors fans were arrested, and in Morumbi, where fans deny racist gestures, but are under investigation by the civil police.

Orsini understands that criminal legislation needs to be updated, but states that there are other means of effective punishment, such as those requiring compensation:

– There are other accountability systems that allow the adoption of more stringent measures, especially in the field of civil liability, and collective moral damage, which have the ability to produce results in order not to allow such practices to continue.

Boca fan arrested after copying a monkey in the match against Corinthians – Photo: Henrique Toth

He states that he hopes to get the cooperation of clubs, federations and other sports-related entities to implement prevention measures. He says the Public Prosecution Office can file a case if there is resistance.

The first is preventive, to understand reality, to involve the actors in adopting transformative measures, to build these measures with them, and to cooperate in the search for answers, but waiting for those answers to be implemented. If this does not happen, there is no other way than to start a civil case against anyone who has not adhered to these guidelines.

If there is a feeling of impunity in football, that is one of the things that needs to be changed. It is these footballers who bear the primary responsibility for preventing these ideas from perpetuating themselves.

Last week, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Edinaldo Rodriguez, suggested that clubs lose points in tournaments when cases of racism from fans are recorded.

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