At Monumental de Nuñez, a River Plate fan showed bananas to Fortaleza fans while teammates laughed. In Ecuador, an Emelec fan called palmeirenses monkeys. Estudiantes fans had a member imitating monkey gestures towards the stands of Red Bull Bragantino.
At Neoquímica Arena, a Boca fan also scratched himself like a monkey for the Corinthians fans. He was arrested, posted bail backed by the Argentine government and laughed at everyone. It was repeated by one of the Universidad Católica supporters in front of rubro-negros in Santiano. There were five cases of racism against Brazilians in 15 days, five in two weeks.
The CONMEBOL court has established penalties of US$35,000 to US$50,000 for teams for racist gestures like these. It is clearly insufficient for any of the clubs to take action against the offenses against Brazilians. Clubs like River and Boca limited themselves to protocol declarations and half-hearted punishments to their fans: they showed little care about the cases.
The Libertadores of 2022 can be said without error that until now it is a competition marked by racism, xenophobia. A championship that intends to be international, sold for millions of dollars to companies around the world, is symbolized by gestures that could happen in 1950, or in 1850, or when blacks were brought in chains to Brazil and other places in South America.
What do Libertadores sponsors like Bridgestone, Santander, Qatar Airways, Amstel have to say? Are they conniving?
And the reaction in Brazil and South America is limited to social networks. Yes, disciplinary proceedings will be opened by CONMEBOL, there will be light fines, and life goes on. The confederation still owes a really tough stance to what goes on in its main competition. To see what your posture will be.
It is not just Conmebol’s responsibility, by the way. Brazilian clubs need to position themselves. How will Flamengo, Corinthians, Fortaleza, Red Bull and Palmeiras face their black fans if they don’t defend them? Flamengo asked Conmebol for action on social networks, it is necessary to go further. Is it easy to take the plane to talk about arbitration, and about racism? And Argentine football: is this the image you want to pass on to the world, fans bragging about their racism?
Brazil is Libertadores’ main market. Economic power helped to end slavery when it ceased to be of interest to powers like England. The time has come for clubs to use their economic power to claim needed change.
It’s not possible for a competition named Libertadores to be watching celebrations of the continent’s past of slavery round by round.