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Brazilians Accuse FIFA of Stamping Out Local Culture

Anger in Brazil is on the rise as World Cup authorities refuses to allow street vendors in the northeastern city of Salvador, one of 12 cities hosting the 2014 football competition, from selling a typical local food known as “acarajé” during the Cup.

The women in the Brazilian state of Bahia who prepare and sell the acarajé, made from fried black-eyed peas stuffed with a spicy filling, will not be allowed to sell the dish at the Fonte Nova stadium since only a bid winner will have the right to sell food during the competition, International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) officials announced [pt] in October last year.

With African origins, acarajé has become a symbol of Brazilian culture and traditionally is sold in and around stadiums during football matches in Bahia's capital city of Salvador.

The move gained the headlines again after the Fonte Nova Stadium, in the city of Salvador, was reopened after renovations on April 5. In the same day, FIFA removed the name of famous Brazilian football player Mané Garrincha [pt] from the National Stadium name in central Brasília, arguing that the inclusion of his name was not appropriate for an international event such as the World Cup.

FIFA's decisions have provoked outrage in Brazil, with some journalists and bloggers accusing the football organization of trying to snuff out Brazilian culture from World Cup branding.

The “baianas do acarajé”, as the street vendors are known, have taken to the streets in their typical all-white cotton dresses, headscarves, and caps to demand their right to sell the dish. Those belonging to the Association of Baianas de Acarajé and Porridge Sellers (ABAM) demonstrated in front of the Fonte Nova stadium during its reopening and handed in a petition to José Vermohler [pt], who is an advisor to the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The association demands that the vendors be free to sell during the World Cup just as they used to around the stadium area before FIFA's construction began.

The conflict between the street vendors and FIFA has gone on since last year, and has lead ABAM to launch a petition online that is still asking for signatures through the website [pt]. The association explains:

Uma resolução da FIFA proíbe qualquer comércio ambulante num raio de 2 km de todos os estádios da Copa do Mundo. Isso exclui vendedores de comidas tradicionais do Brasil. Eles ‘permitem’ os acarajés dentro dos estádios, mas não as baianas.

A FIFA resolution forbids any street trading within a two kilometer radius of all World Cup stadiums. This excludes Brazilian traditional food sellers. They ‘allow’ the acarajé inside the stadiums, but not the ‘baianas de acarajé’.

(CC BY-SA 2.0) Fora do Eixo/ André Costa

Fora do Eixo/André Costa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Facebook page Frases de Baiano [pt] (Phrases said by people from Bahia), which has more than 260,000 likes, republished the photo above. The photograph was also published on Flickr with the words #NãoQueroMcDonalds #QueroAcarajé (I don't want McDonalds, I want acarajé) which has been shared by nearly 2,000. Those hashtags have also been used on Twitter.

On his blog about Brazilian popular cordel literature, poet and lecturer Antonio Barreto published [pt] a poem entitled “World Cup's Cordel: Will FIFA relegate the acarajé from Bahia?”

(CC BY-SA 2.0) Elói Corrêa/SECOM

(CC BY-SA 2.0) Elói Corrêa/SECOM

— O presidente da FIFA
Deve estar desinformado
Pois o nosso acarajé
Há muito foi registrado
Como Patrimônio Histórico
Pelo IPHAN aqui no Estado
Eu soube que a MacDonald
Essa empresa invasora
É quem vai mandar na Copa
Como patrocinadora…
— Eu não quero fast food
De quinta categoria.
Sanduíche importado
Não tem a menor valia…

- The president of FIFA
Might be misinformed
As our acarajé
Since many years ago has been registered
As a national heritage
By the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage here in this federal state
I've heard that MacDonald
That invasive company
Is the one who will command the Cup
As a sponsor …
– I don't want fast food
Of lower quality
An imported sandwich
is worthless …

“Cultural terrorism”

The removal of Mané Garrincha, a famous player who played for Brazil's national team from 1955 to 1966, from the National Stadium in Brasília has also stoked the ire of many Brazilians. FIFA has defended the decision, saying that the World Cup is an event of “international interest” so the names of game sites should be consistent.

Brazilian football fans took the decision as an insult.

On Twitter, professor Cesar Oliveira (@CesarOliveira10) [pt] wrote:

Não pode botar nome de Mané Garrincha, nem vender acarajé! Pra que porcaria uma Copa do Mundo da Fifa se não podemos nem ser o que somos?

One can't put the name Mané Garrincha, nor sell acarajé! What is the point of having a crap FIFA's World Cup if we can't even be who we are?

On the Mundo Botafogo [pt] blog, dedicated to Garrincha's former team Botafogo, Rui Moura highlighted:

Garrincha foi um craque de prestígio mundial, o melhor jogador de sempre, segundo muitas opiniões. Desde quando a FIFA manda num país? Desde quando interfere na designação de estádios de um país? Se o estádio se chamasse Pelé já estaria tudo bem? E os deputados vão aceitar essa redução de soberania do seu país dando o dito pelo não dito?

É absurdo e revoltante!

Garrincha was an ace with worldwide prestige, the best player ever, according to many opinions. Since when does FIFA rule a country? Since when does it intervene in a country's stadium denominations? If the stadium was called Pelé [considered by many the best player of all time, Pelé, who won the World Cup of 1958, 1962 and 1970, promotes football worldwide together with FIFA], would it be okay? And the Members of Congress will accept that reduction of the country's sovereignty by accepting something stated as not stated?

This is absurd and revolting!

Journalist Zé Reinaldo [pt], who writes about social and cultural resistance movements, criticized on his blog:

Os burocratas da Fifa, em sua sacrossanta ignorância, acham que nomes como Mané Garrincha, Maracanã, Mineirão, Itaquerão e outros inventados pelo povão são de difícil compreensão para quem não fala o vernáculo e muito menos conhece os jargões da patuleia….Desde o começo do século 20, quando o futebol começou a ser jogado aqui com exóticas palavras britânicas, o brasileiro foi capaz de naturalizar vocábulos e sem cerimônia compreendeu que Foot-ball é “Futebol”, goleiro é “golquíper”, defensor recuado é “beque”, meio-campista é “centerralfe”, escanteio é “córner”, penalidade máxima é “pênalti”, e assim por diante.

The FIFA bureaucrats, in their Holly ignorance, think names like Mané Garrincha, Maracanã, Mineirão, Itaquerão, and others created by the populace are difficult to understand for those who do not speak the vernacular and don't know the rabble's jargon….Since the early 20th century, when football started being played here with exotic British words, Brazilians was able to “localize” vocabularies and without formalities understood that Foot-ball is “Futebol”, goleiro is “goalkeeper”, defensor recuado is “beque” [defensive back], meio-campista is “center half”, escanteio is “corner”, penalidade máxima is “penalty”, and so on.

Journalist Xico Sá [pt] recalled in his column in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo that Garrincha was the hero of the first two world titles won by the Brazilian National Team, an icon who made the country overcome the mongrel complex [pt] on the pitch. He has condemned FIFA's attitude towards the baianas de acarajé and Garrincha's memory as “cultural terrorism”.

For those who have never heard of Garrincha, rare images of the football star can be seen on YouTube here:

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