Brighton & Hove Albion fullback Bernardo has given an excellent interview to Brazilian outlet UOL this weekend.
Although most of the stories on him are about the transfer to the Premier League and his adaptation to England, the player has now had a very serious chat about the racism and difference between economic classes in Brazil and abroad.
It started with UOL commenting that he’s being managed by the only black manager in the Premier League.
“I had already realised that because I am interested in this question. I think it’s really cool,” Bernardo told UOL. “Not because he’s black, but because he’s very capable of running a Premier League team, even more so in Brighton, a very open-minded city, famous for the LGBT community and accepting people from around the world.
“I have often wondered why there are not many black managers in football. Unfortunately there is prejudice. Maybe not prejudice, but a myth without foundation like the black goalkeeper. It’s something important that has to be debated.”
Bernardo lived an interesting youth, he was actually richer than most of his friends. That’s because his father, also called Bernardo, played for big clubs in Brazil, and had a solid career. So the now Brighton player could study in great schools, but had contact with poor friends who played football at clubs with him.
“In Brazil, it’s not surprising that the upper class is made up of light-skinned people, and the lower class is made up of dark-skinned people. As I studied in a traditional school, with high tuition fees, I could not expect anything different than being the only black person. My mother and father have always been very calm about me in relation to friendships. I often slept in my football friends’ house, and it was something different from what I was used to, in humble neighbourhoods and houses.
“The important thing is that there was a friendship, everyone always treated me very well, and I have these friends to this day. Unfortunately in Brazil the prejudice sometimes comes from the person who is also the victim of discrimination. It has happened that I went to the mall with my mother and felt myself being guarded by the security, or thinking I was a car guard because I was waiting for my mother in front of the car, simply by the colour of the skin.”
“My father had a good career and managed to reach a standard of living that gave me advantages over the boys I grew up training with. I notice a difference many times between the way I was raised and the other players. I’m no better than anyone, but the contrast exists. It has always been a good thing for me to be part of these two worlds. I grew up very much as a person and I could understand at a young age what was happening in my city and in my country.
“I played from under-9 with boys from a lower class and was studying in a very traditional school in São Paulo. I’ve never had any kind of barrier or prejudice for that. My childhood friends are as much of school as of football. I am very grateful to my father for this, but I can’t forget my mother, Irene. She is so or even more responsible for it. My father has the football factor and he experienced many things that I live today, so he always managed to show me something that I did not see. Today he comments to me on all my games and is always present in the contract, when I will sign something new. And my mother keeps picking on me no matter the subject (laughs).”
Bernardo has played in Brazil, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom. And he claims that it was in his home country that he suffered more prejudice: “Amazingly, the biggest was in Brazil. In Austria, there is a closure for the foreigner in general, but not necessarily because of the colour of the skin.
“In Germany, a country labeled by Nazism, I sometimes felt strange looks from older people. But I think Germany did a pretty cool job in schools to raise awareness of what Nazism was. In Berlin and other large cities, there are many foreigners, which shows this openness. In England, the miscegenation is impressive, with successful people be they black, Arab, Asian.”
Bernardo studied journalism for two years, and claims that he would have followed this career in case he wasn’t a football player.
“My mother always encouraged me to read books. I do not really like the physical book, I’m from the internet generation. I read a lot of news, I watch journalism channels and I started listening to a lot of podcasts about sports, politics, journalism, entertainment. I like to know what is happening in Brazil and in the world and I try to keep myself informed. But I’ve always wanted to work with sports and I knew that if I were not a player, I wanted to be a journalist basically because of football.”