PELE, Neymar and other big names in Brazilian football voiced their anger after a Spanish agent hurled racist insults at Real Madrid striker Vinicius Junior to ‘don’t behave like a monkey’.
The head of the Association of Spanish Football Agents (AEAF) Pedro Bravo made this statement on Thursday (15/9) on the Chiringuito Show, one of Spain’s top television football shows.
Bravo said the 22-year-old must stop celebrating goals with his trademark dance.
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Bravo’s remarks drew outrage in Brazil, where black players are often the target of racist taunts with monkey noises.
“Football is happiness. Football is dance,” said Brazilian football legend Pele on Instagram.
“Although it is undeniable that racism still exists today, it must not stop us from smiling. We must continue to fight against racism every day by fighting for our right to be happy,” he continued.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar tweeted, “BAILA VINI JR”, using the Portuguese word for dance. Neymar’s tweet was the hashtag #BailaViniJr which was trending on Brazilian Twitter.
Gaining support from fans and fellow footballers, Vinicius Junior released a statement.
“I am a victim of xenophobic and racism in a statement,” Vinicius said. “This dance is to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the world. Whether you accept it, respect it or not, I will not stop,” said the Real Madrid striker.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBC) also expressed their support for Vinicius and condemned the racist remark.
Real Madrid also reiterated that they reject it as a form of racism and xenophobia and plan to take legal action in response to the statement.
Meanwhile, Bravo apologized via Twitter, saying he used the phrase wrong and meant metaphorically to say ‘fooling around’. (AFP/OL-1)