“There is no doubt: we are under attack. I know dozens of South American and Brazilian journalists fighting against the far right government. A very difficult time in Brazil, too…Many of our colleagues have the voices in silence at the moments.
Merlo also reminded congress of the powerful words of last year Investigative Reporting Awardee Anas Aremeyaw Anas: “Journalism is not a crime”.
Jamil Chade is a freelance journalist who has worked for a number of international media outlets covering sport politics, with a focus on his own country, Brazil. He calls it “plunging into the reality of a magic country, where football is more than a game. More than religion. It is politics and power”.
Q: When were you born?
Jamil Chade: I was born in San Paolo on February 29, 1976, a leap year.
Q: So you are actually very young?
JC: Yes, I will be turning 11 this year (laughing)!
Q: When did you start writing?
JC: At the age of 21 after university (political sciences) when I moved to Brasilia.
Q: And when did the love for sport come?
JC: Ever since I can remember. My passion was football, football and football as a proper Brazilian. My favorite player: Careca. And I was a number 8 when playing myself. bsp;
Q: But then something change. What was the turning point of your career?
JC: It first happen when I realized that something was different than what I had always thought. When I first felt betrayed for the amount of years going to football matches to cheer or to cover them as a journalist not knowing what was actually happening on the pitch and behind the scenes. I felt betrayed. Especially in Brazil. I was cheering for a team or a national team that was not mine anymore. I was told that those teams were mine, but little by little I found that as a genuine spectator I was just being used and abused, My support and enthusiasm for football was actually making the poeple behind this dirty game richer and richer.
Q: When did this happen?
JC: In 2001 there was an inquiry by FIFA and the Brazilian government investigating the export of young players from Brazil to Europe and I realized that both those investigating from Brazil and FIFA’s side had no interest in solving the slave trade but rather wanted the status quo to remain. And we are speaking about children, being turned into a business. That was too much for me.
Q: Are you satisfied with what you have done so far?
JC: No. What we saw in Brazil is the renewal of the structure of power without seeing the changing of its fundamental elements. Our work is not finished yet.
Q: In 2000 you moved to Geneva, Switzerland. How do you like it?
JC: I love its capacity to generate news every day. With 300 international organizations is the place to be. But I try to visit Brazil four times a year.
Q: At this stage of your career what’s your main goal?
JC: I want to use my pen to push the borders of freedom. The World Cup and the Olympics were not sport events, they were a test for our democracy, and rights system, and we failed in both.
Q: Do you believe you can achieve that goal?
If in a lifetime ,each of us can do one inch of good, we can sleep calmly.
Jamil Chade followed closely the preparations of his country to host both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. And what he revealed went beyond the pitch. bsp;
Investigations showed how stadiums had been transformed into bribery mechanisms and the two sports event had become an enormes political project for a few, with the money of many. bsp;
His stories led the Senate of Brazil to open an inquiry commission in order to investigate football officials in the country. It forced Andorra to give up the status of residence for others.
He also published secret contracts by the Brazilian Football Confederation, tracing how friendly matches played by the “SELECAO” were, in fact, generating a fortune for those in charge of sports in Brazil.
Chade also revealed how the national team chose its players, based in commercial interests. And how the national coach was obliged to fulfill specific financial demands in order to chose the 11 players he would use in a match.
In his book Bribes, Polítics and Football, he presets a detailed account of a missed opportunity to use the world cup to transform a country. Instead, it assure millions to those in power. bsp;
In 2016, he refused an invitation to take the torch in the streets of Rio. Instead, he demonstrated how the Olympic dreams of Brazil were, actually, going to be transformed into a political crime. Hugh deficits and a bill left for the citizens of a bankrupt state of Rio de Janeiro.
Years later, it was in the safes Geneva that he found seven gold bars worth millions and diamonds, related to the officials who claimed they needed public money to pay for the Games. bsp;
In 2019, he again showed how friendly matches by Brazil had enriched businessmen and officials and how these games had no sports meaning. bsp;