More than a Supporter

Last Friday, the iconic fan of Flamengo, Seu Expedito, died at the age of 79 in Rio de Janeiro. This year, the well-known “rubro negro” fan had a photo of him went viral on social media. With all his humility, he appears watching the game of his club in the "Estádio Luso Brasileiro", the place where Flamengo played great part of its games the past year. The photo raised an important question: the social exclusion of poor people that has occurred with great frequency in the Brazilian stadiums.

The photo that got viral shows a humble man with flip-flops, that follows his great passion – Flamengo – no matter what struggles he had in his personal life.

Since he was five-years-old, Seu Expedito was a Flamengo fan. At the age of fifteen, he moved from the state of Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro and since his very first days atthe new state, he accompanied the team. He never missed a match and was commonly wearing the “rubro negro” T-shirt.

Since the 2014 World Cup, the number of arenas in the country grew extensively, which made the tickets prices increasingly expensive. The arenas are usually more luxurious stadiums than the veteran grounds, and attract an audience that agree to pay more, in order to enjoy a better comfort. As comfortableness is an expensive thing in football, as a result, the tickets prices has increased, as long as there is a demand. This has made it difficult for poor people, like Expedito, to attend matches.

The minimum wage that a Brazilian worker earns is 937 reais per month. The average ticket of Flamengo and Palmeiras in the Brazilian Championship of 2017 is 62 reais. It’s absurd price in the current Brazilian socio-economical reality.

In addition, clubs have partner programs that practically make the fan as hostage. In order to get the cheapest places, the fan has to join a program, where he buys the ticket in their "pre-sale". If you are not a member, it is practically impossible to get the cheapest ticket. Many of these programs are worth the price paid for any middle and upper class. However, the most humble supporters often don't even have the chance to pay these program prices – since the gap is expanding in an unrealistic pace. Only a few years back, first Division average ticket was only 11.36 reais (2006), while in 2017 it rose to 32.05 reais. Only 7 out of the 20 first division clubs sell tickets with prices equal to or less than 25 reais. That’s obviously not a welcoming atittude towards those who needs to live off with less than 1000 reais a month.

Now let's imagine the following scenario: a family that support Flamengo or Palmeiras, composed of 2 adults and 2 children with a monthly income equal to 3 minimum wages (2811 reais) wants to go to the stadium twice a month. If we think about the value of food, transportation and the price of admission, surely we will have values close to or greater than 400 reais per month in order to attend the stadium only twice. Again, something which is completely remoted to Brazilian lower-classes socio-economical daily life.

The stadiums that were a space of entertainment for all classes just few years ago became a space that is more directed to the elite. The humble and poor supporter has been excluded from the stadiums. It is quite unbelievable to say but football in Brazil, the game’s most famous nation, is actually becoming a hobby only for the rich.

Unfortunately, Seu Expedito died before seeing this reality changes. He could not see the Maracanã with a special sector of affordable tickets, allowing people of all classes to watch a match. He died without seeing Brazilian football going back to what it always was: a space of social inclusion. This has always been the greatest characteristic of football in the country. It has never seperated and excluded a social class, a race or a certain sex. It always accepted them all. Unfortunately, time has changed.

In an interview given in July to a Flamengo fans website, Seu Expedito won the Flamengo 2017 shirt with his name on the back. He thanked them very much and it was clear how happy he was. In the same interview, he said he was very grateful, because, in every game that he went, he was always treated very well at the stadium. Aware for his dedication and struggle to afford a match ticket, everyone treated him with great affection, without expection. He said he was very grateful to God for having good health and a happy personal life.

Flamengo, in its last game, made a minute of silence in honor of Seu Expedito.

Though, if the club really wants to respect his memory – they should decrease the ticket prices so more people like Seu Expedito will have the chance to attend matches more frequently, and the stadium will return to be a place for all - regardless of social condition, race or anything else. This may, perhaps, will be a beginning of revolution in Brazilian football, encouraging other teams to take the same measure.

This probably will not happen. But people and stories like Seu Expedito should drive the revolution in.