There was a major outcry calling out racism in Brazil and internationally when Vinicius Jr., the Real Madrid star footballer came under racist (particularly anti-black comments) on Friday.
On the 15th of September, Pedro Bravo, the president of the Spanish Football Agents’ Association (AEAF) and a huge Atletico Madrid fan, told the winger to “stop acting like a monkey” on the “Chiringuito Show”, one of Spain’s major football TV shows, in reference to the latter’s signature celebratory dance steps after scoring goals.
The remark sparked outrage in Brazil, particularly in light of multiple incidents where racist fans have mocked black players by mimicking monkeys, and internationally, especially among football enthusiasts who have condemned it across various social media platforms and urged Vini Jr. to keep dancing.
Numerous football stars spoke up in support of the 22-year-old, with Brazil teammate Neymar writing on Instagram, “Dribble, dance and be yourself, happy to be who you are!
Go for the top, my friend, we will dance on your next goal.” He also tweeted “BAILA VINI JR”, which culminated into a trending hashtag on the platform for the rest of the day, with the other retweeting the same with “Sempre” (always), and a picture of them dancing with Lucas Paqueta.
There were other football legends who came to Vini’s defence, the most important of which was certainly Pele.
The icon wrote on Instagram, “Football is joy. It’s a dance. It’s more than that. It’s a real party. Although unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile.”
“And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected. #BailaViniJr”.
Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Magalhaes
The winger ended up releasing his own statement, and in a video posted across his social media, said that “They say that happiness bothers. The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more. But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are much bigger than that.”
“You can’t even imagine it. I was a victim of a xenophobic and racist comment. But none of that started yesterday. Weeks ago they began to criminalize my dances.”
“Dances that are not mine. They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, [Lucas] Paqueta, [Antoine] Griezmann, Joao Felix, Matheus Cunha… they belong to Brazilian funk and samba artists, reggaeton singers, and black Americans.”
“Those are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I’m not going to stop.”
Real Madrid released a statement condemning the racism and threatened legal action against those making racist remarks, saying, “Real Madrid C. F. condemns all types of racist and xenophobic language and behaviour in football, sport and life in general, such as the regrettable and unfortunate comments made against our player Vinicius Junior in the last few hours.
Real Madrid would like to express its affection and support for Vinicius Junior, a player who regards football as an attitude towards life through joy, respect and sportsmanship. Football is the most global sport there is and should be a model of values and coexistence. The club has directed its legal services to take legal action against anyone who makes racist remarks towards our players.”
Vinicius, 22, said he was racially insulted during a Clasico match against Barcelona in 2021. Vinicius has previously been the object of racist abuse in Spain. While playing against Mallorca in 2022, he was also the target of alleged racist chanting, to which he retaliated by dancing in front of the rival supporters after scoring.
In his eight games thus far this season, the Brazilian has been in excellent form, tallying five goals and three assists.
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