It took a few minutes for Charles Fabian to get the whole picture.
The young forward had just finished dinner at the Brazilian Tim Hotel in the northeastern city of Salvador when the Bahia president of the local party entered.
“You can pack your bags because you don’t live here,” shouted Paolo Maracasha as he grabbed Charles by the arm.
It was June 1989. The Copa America was supposed to start and then Charles, then 21 and a Bahia player, didn’t break into the national set-up. He did not know what to do. No one from the Brazilian FA was found, he ended up following orders to leave.
As it turned out, Maracazছিলেন took matters into his own hands, with Charles reportedly dropped from the final 20-member squad. He was angry that his player had been dropped.
Excluding will have dramatic consequences. What happened next survives in the national consciousness as one of the darkest moments in Brazilian sports history. This seemed like another betrayal to people who had long felt marginalized – and who still do.
Brazil’s opening match was the next day, in the same northeastern city – Salvador.
Charles was a local icon, and it was many years ago when a player from a team in the region was selected for the national team.
Only 1,000,000 fans turned out for the 1-1 win over Venezuela – less than half – but the message was not clear. Supporters burned the Brazilian flag, played the national anthem and forced coaching staff to flee the dugout by throwing flames at them. Anger spread from the stand.
“I had mixed feelings that day,” Charles said. “On the one hand I was happy with the support I received, but on the other hand I was saddened by what happened. No one wants to see your country’s flag burn.
“The protest was valid, although, in my opinion, it could have been done otherwise.”
Obviously, it wasn’t just a matter of football. Charles was dragged into the controversy for decades by the division between Brazil’s two main population centers ধ the rich southeast and the poor northeast, which lag behind every social and economic indicator.
This is a part of the country where millions of people earn less than £ 20 a month, where millions are starving, where unemployment has risen. More than 50% During the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic.
This is a problem that has forced many northeasts to relocate to southeastern cities such as Sওo Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. But once there, often life is not so easy – there are still superstitions among the obstacles.
For almost his entire career, Barcelona legend Rivaldo complained that he was not being treated by the media like other Brazilian superstars such as Romario and Ronaldo. According to him, there was only one reason for this: he was from the Northeast. When he officially retired in 2015, the general feeling was that his talent was not truly appreciated.
In Rio de Janeiro, people in the northeastern region of Brazil are stereotyped and universally referred to as “paraibas” (someone from the state of Paraiba), where they actually come from. Somewhat, however, the same thing happens in Sওo Paulo, where they are called “Baiano” (from the state of Bahia).
One episode is particularly famous in Brazil – the reaction of the former international Edmundo from the state of Rio, who was sacked in a match in 1997.
He said: “We come to play in Paraiba [the game actually took place in another north-eastern state, Rio Grande do Norte] And you put a ‘paraiba’ [the official was in fact from the north-eastern state of Ceara] It could never work to referee the game. ”
There are also examples of the country’s highest office -20 in 2019, Brazil’s right-wing president Zaire Bolsonaro, born in the state of Sao Paulo, was referred to in a leaked audio recording of the governors of the northeastern states as “Paraiba governors”.
In the South, people in the Northeast are often considered socially or intellectually inferior. It is not uncommon to mock and ridicule their local pronunciation.
The former Porto and Janet St. Petersburg star Hulk, from the state of Priba, went through it at a national team press conference before the 201 World Cup.
The journalist asked the 5-year-old forward, referring to people in the Northeast, “it’s their accent that makes them laugh.” As an emotional boy in this region, he could not believe his ears.
“Unfortunately, we know that prejudice still exists, regardless of your workplace or profession,” said Hulk, who is now back in Brazilian football with Atletico Mineiro.
“But the Northeast is a warrior, a conqueror, and can conquer all of this. I am proud to have come from the Northeast, carrying our banner and protecting our people anywhere in the world. I am so grateful for all the love and support I have always received.” . “
Despite being the second most populous region in the country, with about 57 million people, 27% of the national population, nine state areas have never seen footballers from local teams represent Brazil in the World Cup.
For the past 15 years, only two players from Northeast clubs have been called up to the national team -20 Sport Recife forward Diego Souza in 2017 and Nautico left-back Douglas Santos in 2013.
Part of the problem is that talented players usually don’t stay long at these clubs, often moving south after the first lucrative offer, sometimes without making their senior debut. Rivaldo, Bebeto, Juninho Pernambucano, Dida and Roberto Firmino all followed the same path.
With so many small budgets, it is impossible for local clothing to compete financially with powerhouses like Flamengo, Palmeiras and Gremio. So they lose their best players.
One way to combat this would be to sell their young talent directly to Europe, but although the situation has improved in recent years, it rarely happens. The vast majority still go south-east and then to other leagues. French-Algerian agent Frank Henouda believes there is a reason.
Henauda has served as Shakhtar Donetsk’s ambassador to Brazil for almost two decades, overseeing the arrival of Fernandinho, Willian, Fred, Douglas Costa and many more. Of the 13 Brazilian footballers he recruited for the Ukrainian team, none came from the Northeast.
“If a club comes to me and says I got one boy from the Northeast and the other from the South, I would advise them to sign later. It may cost more, but the risk is less,” Henauda said.
“Brazil is a continental country, so I noticed a difference in places after I went there in the 2000s. Europe.
“Players in this region are physically strong and do not struggle with increased appetite. In the south they have colonial colonial breakfast. In the north-east it is completely different.
“The other day, I was looking forward to an Atletico Goianiens from there – I like him a lot, but he has a smaller shape and smaller bones because they didn’t develop properly due to a lack of calcium in childhood. He will be more susceptible to injury.
“When you’re closing a deal, you have to pay attention to all these details, even the type of stud that the athlete wears. When he leaves for Europe, it will take him some time to boot with the metal thing. Not every team is willing to wait for it after paying 10m euros. “
Outside the Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro-Belo Horizonte-Porto Alegre axis, it is still very rare to see anything with nationwide coverage in Brazil.
In a situation where clubs rely on commercial ventures and TV revenue, this exposure makes it more difficult for Northeast teams to improve on top flights.
For the Northeast, the top-10 finish remains the main goal – and it has been achieved only three times in the last decade – but the situation is starting to change for the better.
Fortaleza increased their earnings 10 times between 2014 and 2019. They are currently fourth in the table and have reached the semifinals of the Brazilian Cup for the first time in 102 years.
Meanwhile, Ciara has recorded the lowest debt in the Brazilian league and Bahia has also changed dramatically.
They hit the rock floor in 2006, finding themselves on the third level. There was such outrage among fans that 50,000 took to the streets of Salvador to protest against the board. Things did not move quickly, but in the 2013 season, ticket holders were finally given the opportunity to vote for the club’s president – something that is rare in Brazilian football.
The team’s 1959 and 1988 league title trophies were thrown in the trash. Now they are a model club. They have paid off some debts that have crippled them and introduced a new transparency policy.
“I have no doubt that until the 1990s there was a very strong system that disadvantaged footballers from the Northeast,” said Vitor Faraj, vice-president of Bahia.
“When one of your teams won the Brazilian League, as we did in 1988, and you see that the players were given occasional opportunities, you realized that they would get a chance to wear a different shirt. Explain what happened to Charles in 1989. That.
“We are now the most democratic party in the country. It has garnered some attention from the national media, but we know that if a club in the south had done the same, the impact would have been much greater.
“We attribute it to the prejudice that still exists.
“From now on, what happens on the pitch will change that reality.”