Sports meritocracy isn't a reality in Brazil!

Brazil | Sport | Reality | 10th August 2021 | Virtual Wire

Black woman, born on the outskirts of the largest metropolis in the country and daughter of a single mother who works as a housekeeper.

This is the reality of Rebeca Andrade, who brought two Olympic medals to Brazil. Meritocracy is the word that would define the narrative of the athlete's trajectory.

However, social data, the Brazilian daily life, and the lack of investments in the formation of new athletes tell us another history, contributing to the difficulties, overcomings, and battles faced by the gymnast and other Brazilian athletes.

Although the Olympic medalist's victory is very representative and relevant for Brazilians in the same position as Andrade, her life demonstrates the difficulty experienced by black people in Brazil.

After a visit to the country, the United Nations (UN) published a report in 2014, concluding that racism is structural and institutional. That means that every black Brazilian faces social, educational, professional, and existential opportunities restricted by skin colour and racial background.

It is worth remembering that blacks represent 51% of all Brazilians, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Being a woman adds to this reality an even greater challenge, considering that the Latin American giant is the fifth country with the highest rate of femicide globally, according to the World Health Organization.

The intersectional cut of race, gender, and class that crosses the athlete's existence in a country like Brazil, places Andrade within a history that can rarely be reproduced by other girls who want the same.

As if these two factors were not enough, violence is relevant when we talk about black youth. Samira Bueno, executive director of the Brazilian Forum on Public Security, at a press conference to publicize the Atlas of Violence 2020, highlights: “The Atlas data reaffirm a Brazilian tragedy, about the representation of young people and blacks.

Historically, when we talk about youth, this is the largest portion of homicide victims in Brazil.” The publication finds that 30,873 young people were killed in Brazilian cities in 2018. The most recent case that gained repercussion in the media was that of designer Kathleen Romeu, a 24-year-old black girl.

A rifle bullet hit Romeu during a police operation in the Lins de Vasconcelos community in Rio de Janeiro. She had gone to visit her grandmother and was 4 months pregnant.

Besides surviving the harsh reality of the Brazilian social scenario, athletes need to deal with the lack of investment. At each Olympic cycle, the debate on public investment in the sector is rekindled.

The main financial incentive program of the federal government is the Bolsa Atleta, which had a cut of 17% from the last cycle, an unprecedented fact since its creation in 2005. According to research run by the newspaper Estadão, the government invested R$ 530.4 million in the Tokyo Olympic cycle in comparison to the R$ 641.1 million invested in the Rio Olympic cycle.

The values are distributed monthly to registered athletes according to their category. Olympic athletes receive R$ 3,100 and, if you reach the podium, this amount can increase up to R$ 15.000.

The discrepancy is due to the amount transferred to base athletes who receive only R$ 370, representing a little less than a third of the minimum wage in the country. The Brazilian reality limits the chances of having more and more athletes like Rebeca Andrade living and maintaining themselves in the sport.

Her history tells what it is like to survive day after day in the pursuit of the sporting dream and is not the translation of a meritocratic trajectory.

Brazilian population needs to overcome the daily struggle against racism, chauvinism, living conditions, and lack of investment in base athletes that affect them, so that there are more opportunities to build fair and healthy success cases in sport.

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