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FIFA Forced to Deny Accusations of Racism in World Cup Draw Controversy

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 21:  The logo of the FIFA World Cup 2014 is seen prior the FIFA World Cup 2014 European Zone Play-Off Match Draw at the FIFA headquarter on October 21, 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Marc Eich/Getty Images)
Marc Eich/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2016

A Brazilian authority has claimed that an investigation against FIFA will be opened after a stir was caused by the federation's decision to choose two white presenters for Friday's World Cup draw.

Bahia is the setting for Friday's venue, where fans from around the world will find out how each nation will line up in the group stages of next summer's competition. TV presenter Rodrigo Hilbert and his model wife Fernanda Lima will host the draw. 

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 08:  Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert (R) pose during the launch of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Official emblem on July 8, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Christiano Jorge Santos, the state prosecutor of Sao Paulo, revealed the decision will be investigated, per Reuters and The Sun (h/t ESPN). Afro-Brazilian soap actors Lazaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga were overlooked for the hosting role, which has been viewed as an act of discrimination:

I opened the investigation due to the suspicion of a crime of racism on the part of FIFA, or by the company they selected to organise the show, GEO EventosRacism is a serious matter in Brazil. We need to find out if a crime was committed. We do not want the image of our people to be whitened or distorted.

However, as the same report suggests, Hilbert and Lima have already played a part in the 2014 World Cup schedule and were on hand in South Africa three years ago for the official announcement of Rio's official World Cup emblem, while the latter, Lima, also played a part in presenting 2011's preliminary draw.

On the other hand, Ramos and Pitanga are yet to have any role in the tournament's development, despite the fact the pair are referenced as starring in one of their nation's most popular television programmes, Side By Side.

FIFA sent a statement to Reuters regarding the matter of alleged discrimination earlier this week, which reads:

The selection of Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert was mainly based on the positive experience made during the launch of the Official Emblem and the Preliminary Draw.

FIFA's stance against any form of discrimination and racism which is even enshrined in our various regulations amongst others is well known.

The investigation adds a sour note to Friday's draw, an occasion that's sure to send World Cup fever to new heights, with just over seven months left until the Brazilian bonanza.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 29:  Pele speaks to the media during his official presentation as honorary ambassador for the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the Modern Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro on July 29, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Regan
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Santos' revelation of suspected discrimination strikes as slightly odd given that Lima and Hilbert have already teamed up as a hosting partnership in the past without facing opposition.

It seems the significance of this Friday's event has only irked those offended by the decision more, but Friday's draw should be about the world's best 32 international teams, not the hosts.

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