Like a person from the lower class

Like a person from the lower class

In the stadium where the semifinal Brazil against Germany will take place today, Brenno has been working as a VIP supervisor since the beginning of the World Cup. Although he disdains the escapist world in the VIP area, he desperately needs the money. About the antagonism of a young Brazilian during a matchday.

(Belo Horizonte)

On matchdays Brenno already has to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning. Still somnolent, he is putting on his service clothing as well as his name tag and starts walking to the stadium. His job title is called »Match Venue Supervisor«. His place of work is the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. Brenno – who is actually called differently – does not want to name his employer. It is a multinational corporation, which is one of the main sponsors of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

Brenno is 23 years old and is currently studying chemical engineering at the university of Belo Horizonte, which is located not far from the stadium. When he first found out in 2007 that the World Cup would be taking place in Brazil, he knew that he wanted to be a part of it. »I wanted to play my part in turning this event into a big success for our nation and also for all the visitors.« He fulfilled his desire. However, this desire did not turn out the way he imagined it to be. Like many other Brazilians, the opinion towards the World Cup has shifted over the course of the last weeks and months. »I would have never thought that I would be working for one of the main sponsors one day,« he says.

What does this bulky notion of Match Venue Manager imply? »My employer is hosting a lot of people during the World Cup. They can be managers, relatives or friends of high-ranking officials or winners of lotteries. They live in hotels in Rio or Sao Paulo and are flown into the hosting city of the next match. My job is to pick them up from the airport and escort them to their VIP boxes or assigned seats. I am responsible for the guests 24/7 (hours per day), hence I am basically a maid-of-all-work.«

The Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte before a match day (Photo: private)

The Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte before a match day (Photo: private)

Two weeks ago Brenno almost quit his job. Unlike the games before, he had been assigned to a VIP box, in which guests from many sponsors as well as holders of very expensive VIP tickets resided. »Several guests treated us (employees) as people from a lower class,« he says. One man for instance yelled at Brenno requesting him to get out of the way. After all Brenno had not paid for his ticket as opposed to the man.

Only a few minutes later the VIP box supervisor severely rebuked Brenno and a colleague after they had shared a glass of water. They should stop it immediately, because guests could see it. »If I am not even allowed as a human being to drink something in the presence of other people, do I then still count as equal (human being)?«, he asks himself. He describes the atmosphere in the VIP boxes as disagreeable. He had often noticed that men residing in the VIP boxes harassed young female colleagues. According to him it did not always stop with insinuating remarks.

All of these incidents reaffirmed Brenno’s initial doubts, which he had casted when he started his job. »The people I am currently working for are exactly those people my friends and I are normally despising. They are either sponsors that are jointly responsible for this elitist event »FIFA World Cup« or they are the privileged Brazilians and international visitors who finally ‘consume’ the World Cup.« Afterwards he talks about a video (see below), which went viral among his friends. It shows sequences of a party in a VIP box, which perfectly represents the guests he has been referring to. This makes him angry.

Brenno, however, continues working there. It is the money, which aborts his initial impulse to quit. Normally he works as a private tutor besides his studies, which helps him to secure a basic income. After all, a more lucrative job as the current one he has never had in his life before. »I would have to work two and a half years to earn the money I am currently earning in a month«, he says. »I will be graduating from university next year and I would like to go abroad afterwards. I have to think about my future.«

Brenno has found a way to deal with the internal antagonism by now. It is a combination of whitewashing and repression. »It is true that through my current Job I am getting to know a complete different perspective and I am seeing things that I would have not seen otherwise. I cannot complain about my employer, as it is one of the better ones. Finally I am part of an event, which concerns the entire globe and during my breaks I am even able to watch the games.«

In moments like the ones from last week, in which not even the whitewashing seems to work, he completely switches off. »If I would constantly think about it, I would not be able to do my work properly. I promised my employer always to do the best I can and I stick with it,« he says. I am aware that this might not be the right strategy and I have some friends who are criticizing me for it, but it has worked out for me.

The end of Brenno’s World Cup adventure is already close. Only one last time, today, he has to try to keep up his façade. Like on all other matchdays, this time for the highly expected semifinal Brazil against Germany, he will be responsible to escort the corporate guests to the airport, take off his service clothing and walk back to his student hall. »Always when I get home, I have the feeling that I have just entered a different world.« He is convinced that it is this world he wants to belong to in the future.


Translation: Jasper Schlump