Friday, May 26, 2017

Whistle is not play! - Dr. Gilles Klein

Whistle is not play!

Dr. Gilles Klein, 26 May 2017 

10th September 2007. Brasilia. Our organization’s President asked me to represent him at an award ceremony to the President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Arriving in the Brazilian capital, once more I was confronted with a childhood memory, the one of the inauguration of Brasilia, in the Spring of 1960. The President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira had then decided to build a new capital in the heart of the country in the middle of quasi-desert steppes, to contribute to the development of the interior. My child's innocence was struck by the audacity of putting people in the middle of nowhere.


The boldness was also that of the architect Oscar Niemeyer and the urban planner Lucio Costa. Arriving in Brasilia, you are confronted by the genius of these two men who subscribe to the architectural tradition of “international style” invented by Le Corbusier. Rather than observe the agenda, you are moved to visit the National Congress, Juscelino Kubitscheck bridge, Eixo monumental or more the Cathedral of Brasilia. Yet the agenda soon goes on.


Planalto Palace. It is the award place. It is the official headquarters and the office of the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil. An assembly of white concrete and glass supported by slim columns that seem to dive in a water surface without any wrinkle. Only the red belt and helmet crest of the Presidential Palace guards break this harmony. Inside, the immensity of the white marble spaces reinforces the beauty of outside lines. The person in charge of the Economic and Social Council of Brazil drives us towards offices and meeting rooms to prepare for the ceremony.


At the end of this September morning, the President Lula has to receive the annual award, presented by the United Nations, related to the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). All the representatives of the national and international civil society are invited. In cooperation with the oil company Total, our organization was called upon to present the award to President Lula. The truth is that, excepting the honor to stand next to the famous Brazilian president, the main interest of these formal meetings is to allow informal meetings, in that case with the Brazilian minister of sports.


Before the ceremony, we were called upon to a work meeting organized by the Brazilian economic and social council, a member of AICESIS, who was one of our partners and supporters. The assessment of the MDGs in Brazil was on the agenda. In 2007, six years after the goals definition, eight years before their evaluation, Brazil was considered by the United Nations as one of the countries that had most advanced the eight goals. Since 2003, Brazil had even been able to exceed the number of the planned goals.


To reach it, the policy led by President Lula devoted many efforts and investments, developed numerous social policies, notably concerning the access to education and health. Thus, the country managed to eradicate hunger, reduce extreme poverty, decrease infant mortality and develop policies to empower women in the society, fight against the AIDS epidemic. Regarding these goals, Brazil defined world indicators that were relayed by dozens of Latin American, African and Asian countries following the United Nations’ recommendation.


In 2007, we left the Rabat seminar. Our organization intended to contribute in its own way too young peoples' education and training of their staff to MDGs. The Brazilian assessment imposed modesty. During this review of the MDGs progress in Brazil and in order to draw inspiration from the Brazilian experience, I addressed a question on the Youth’s access to sport and the transmission of the sports values, either educative, healthy and integrative, notably related to gender issues. The response was quite exciting.


The MDGs spokesperson in Brazil informed the attendees on the contribution of sport to MDGs. Brazil completed physical education and school sport with an extra-curricular program called Segundo Tempo. Since 2003, this program was an initiative of the Brazilian ministry of sport, launched in the twenty-five states of Brazil. It was implemented in partnership with several federal government’s agencies, the governments of the participant states, the municipalities, and NGOs. In a manner of speaking, the Segundo Tempo program implemented the complementarity of the learning times of children which I called in the European context: physical education, school sport, extra-curricular sport. Brazil then achieved it!


The program aimed to promote the practice and benefits of sport and allow several millions of children, teenagers and young people from 6 to 20 years to live many experiences in the framework of sports activities. It proposed to them a sports education aiming to increase their aptitudes to daily life. It first and foremost targeted the group located in socially underprivileged areas. At more than 75% attendees, one stated an amelioration of self-esteem, communication abilities, social and family life, resurgence of interest for school activities and performances and/or the health issues as well as a decrease of social risks. Among the projects of development, the ministry of sports intended to integrate the sport education federal policy to encourage the sport practice in schools.


In terms of sports, the President Lula da Silva, to whom we should present the award of MDGs promotion, had more than Segundo Tempo in his pouch. He planned to welcome the Olympic Games to Brazil. Doubtless, he thought of it during this 2007 ceremony. Two years later, on 26 and 27 September 2009, at the IIth Africa-Latin-America Summit (ALS) he declared that “the main world sports event could not be exclusively organized by the rich countries”. Some days later, Lula defends then personally the Rio candidature to the 2016 Olympic Games. He counts also on the ex-soccer player Pelé, who started a lobbying campaign in favor of the Brazilian candidature.


In 2009, Brazil is the only one of the major economic superpowers on the planet not to have organized the Olympic Games. On 2 October, in Copenhagen, the country obtains the organization of the Olympic Games, for the first time in Latin America. The city of Rio of Janeiro will welcome the 2016 OG after having won the IOC delegates’ vote. Rio finishes ahead of Madrid at the last round. “Brazil deserved to organize the Olympic Games”, declared the President Luiz Inácio da Silva, following the announcement of the result. “It is the victory of 190 millions Brazilian souls” added the Brazilian head of state, who appears emotional after Rio’s victory. He called his country to set to work without delay. In fact, Brazil is facing a double challenge since he welcomes in 2014 the football world cup. Never before did a nation organize the two main global sports events just two years apart.


In Lula’s strategy, there is the return of the Bandung’s spirit and the solidarity of those called as non-aligned. In the course of organizing the Olympic Games, Brazil takes support from its international policy and emphasizes the support of poor and emerging countries. The Brazilian diplomats and the members of the 2016 Rio organizing committee have made every possible effort towards the Southern countries. They met the Olympic Committee of Syria, Gambia, Uganda, Guinea and Nigeria. To win the support of his neighbors, Lula reminded them of the action undertaken by his country to increase the Latin-American integration. He also underlined the Brazilian mediation in the conflicts in Africa, where Brazil finances many social programs.


Segundo Tempo was a major argument in the Rio de Janeiro candidature file to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic Games of the summer 2016. The Games have been presented by the ministry of sport as a follow-up, a legacy of the coordinated work between sport and education: “Rio 2016 endorses the federal government commitment to offer to all Brazilians the access to this powerful association between education and sport”[1]. Since 2009, the ministries of sport, education and culture work in concertation to the integration of their policies. That is how the programme Segundo tempois associated to theMais educaçãoprogramme. These actions increase the number of young involved within sports activities in the country.


Between 2009 and 2016, to show this complementarity, the ministry of sports plans a set of specific initiatives: i) the programme of Segundo Tempo development, that is henceforth supported by the United Nations, projects to give access to sport in the public schools to 3 million Brazilian pupils; ii) an investment of more than 400 million US dollars in favour of sport education and a programme of federal financing of sports infrastructures in the public schools; iii) the methods of physical and sport education learning are improved to provide better access to the sport and physical education courses in all the schools.


The resultof this integration is that the planned objectives by the Rio candidature file to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been largely exceeded. In 2013, it is expected that 8.6 million children would be associated to the Segundo Tempo and Mais educaçãoprogrammes, it means 150% more than the expected number in the candidature file. Related to the investments, more than 700 million Reals have already been dedicated to the construction of sports infrastructures in schools.


Friday 5 August 2016, the opening ceremony of the Rio Games. From my stay in Brasilia I kept in mind: Lula, the MDGs award, Segundo tempo and Mais educação, for more sport and more education, but also for the promotion of educational, healthy and integrated values through sport. In 2009, the Games are attributed when the country is in full economic euphoria, with the popularity of President Lula at its highest. However, seven years later the dynamic changed. Complicated situation in sports terms: excessive expenses of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, disappointing tickets sales. Complicated situation in economic terms: fall of the oil price, economic recession of the country. Complicated situation in political terms: Lula prosecuted by the judiciary, Dilma Roussef’s destitution. We will come back to it next week. We are going now to the Olympic stadium.


Monday 15th August. Pole vault competition. The French Renaud Lavillenie, holder of the world record with 6.16 m is the competition favorite. Yet he is defeated over the wire by the young Brazilian Thiago Braz Da Silva who pushes the Olympic record at 6.03 m. Before trying his last jump at 6.08 m, the 2012 Olympic champion knows that he has lost his title. Sometimes ago, the Brazilian jumped over the bar, unexpected for him, at 6.03 m, shattering by ten ccentimeters his best performance.


The thumb down in direction of the forums, Lavillenie expresses his dissatisfaction towards the Brazilian public. During the competition, he was constantly infuriated by the spectators’ whistles who encouraged their national champions and destabilize their opponents. Once more whistled during the medals ceremony he felt himself demeaned by “this shit public”, some words for which he apologized. Then, during the Brazilian anthem in tribute to Thiago Braz, the French could not hold back his tears.


The French consider the spectators’ behavior in these words: “these hoots show that these spectators do not have any respect for the Olympic values… it was not the first time that they whistled me. With the high stakes and the fatigue, you do not need that. It is very disrupting and annoying because you feel the public’s wickedness. Athletics is not football. In order to whistle, they need stay at home at the front of television”[2]. For an instant, I thought of Lula and his MDGs award, to Segundo Tempo, to the educational, healthy and integrated values transmitted through sport. So, I thought that sporting show carries within itself a kind of violence and that education cannot do a great deal. But then again, education and show have probably nothing to do with each other. The transfer from the first to the second is only an illusion. Michel and Marcos have convinced me.


A journalist from the newspaper Sud-Ouest[3]questioned the sociologist of sports Michel Raspaud about the behavior of the Brazilian supporters during these Olympic Games. The first reason is the Latin temperament. Even if the Brazilian are less virulent than the Argentinian. Then, the national identity issue is very present: “Carrying a flag, a jersey, it is a strong symbol there”. The political, economic and social situation is a third reason: “the sporting successes can be seen as an outlet, thinning, or recapture of a national pride”.


Questioned by a journalist from the newspaper 20 minutes, Marcos, a Brazilian, tries to explain the attitudes of his compatriots in the stands: “as such, I do not have anything against the French, American or anyone(...) It is just we try to destabilize the opponent by all means, even if searches upon entry prevent us from some things. After, once the competition finished, who cares?The sportsman that I was remembered that the performance depends a lot on the environment. Sometimes you draw from it a strength, sometimes it becomes your weakness. It is also dependent on the diversity of sports. The Olympic Judo champion Teddy Riner explains thus: “When then have whistled me, against the Brazilian, it let me be transcended, I love it, I love it! It is also that the Games, it is also that the sport, sometimes there is pressure and they want to put the pressure on you, but you need to evacuate it, you must put it away (…) After, some respond and others not”.

Next: 2 June 2017 – Thiago & Dilma

[1]Mais informações sobre o Programa Segundo Tempo/Mais Educação podem ser obtidas no endereço:
[2]JO 2016 - perche : Renaud Lavillenie tombe de haut, Le Monde, published on 15/08/16,
[3]JO : pourquoi le public brésilien siffle-t-il autant les athlètes étrangers? - Sud Ouest.frpublished on 17/08/2016,




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