Empty words: a Brazilian mastery

masksPasse lá em casa, “drop by my place”, a Brazilian acquaintance will tell you. “Come over for some coffee”. Without ever giving you his address. When not followed by action, words become meaningless. Empty. A theatre. Sometimes innocent, but often anything but innocent.

A politician in Brasilia accused of fraud will step up to the microphone before his peers in Congress and for 45 minutes claim his innocence. Not presenting any evidence thereof, just claiming it. Half of his peers will nod convincingly and declare that the case is to be considered closed. The same people who hide behind the secret voting procedure to let’s another member of parliament, sentenced to 13 years in prison, to keep his mandate.

Brazilian doctors take an oath to always respect and protect life, but are extremely reluctant to serve under harsh conditions, leaving a large part of the population uncovered. Foreign doctors – eager to work, eager to fill nine out of ten positions previously and recently again refused by Brazilian doctors – are booed by their Brazilian colleagues upon arrival in the country.

A journalist claims high ethical standards, but only reacts (and what a reaction!) when Valdivia drags his feet off the court in order to get that third yellow booking and clean his sheet. Why no reaction when other players and teams were involved in identical situations? Could it be the journalist happens to support Palmeiras’ biggest rival?

And when you think you’ve seen it all, another respected journalist, who happens to be a Palmeiras supporter, defends his colleague. Corporatism worthy of congress, worthy of Brazilian doctors.

Valdivia goes to trial. In stark contrast to previous (and rare) occasions when a player has been tried for “tricking” the referee into a booking, the Tribunal of Sports sentences Valdivia to sit out two games.

Ethics. Principles. Transparency. Words put to use a plenty in Brazilian society. Meaningless words. Empty.

There’s this other word, “professionalism”, much used in the world of sports. “Professional management”. With six months in office, Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre better take a good look at his staff and make serious evaluations. Has performance been up to standards? Have key persons delivered? Is Brunoro the man for the job? After Barcos and Vilson, should palmeirenses really have to prepare themselves for a third, foggy transfer to unfold at any moment?

There needs to be coherent action to match. I’d hate to see “professionalism” at Palmeiras become one more empty word.

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