Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior confirmed over the weekend that he will continue celebrating his goals by dancing and accused his critics of being upset by ‘the happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe’ in response to racist comments made by a Spanish football agent.
Pedro Bravo, the president of the Spanish agents’ association, was asked about Vinicius’ celebrations on Spanish television last Thursday, and said Vinicius “has to respect his mates and stop playing the monkey”.
The comments sparked a backlash against Bravo and a flood of support for Vinicius. In response to this comment on Instagram, Vinicius wrote, “They say happiness is annoying. The happening of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more”.
“But my desire to win, my smile and the twinkle in my eyes are much bigger than that. You can’t even imagine. I was a victim of xenophobia and racism in one statement. But none of that started yesterday. Weeks ago, they started criminalising my dancing.
“Dances that are not mine. They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, (Lucas) Paqueta, (Antoine) Griezmann, João Felix, Matheus Cunha… Brazilian funk and samba artists, reggaeton singers, and American blacks”.
“They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I’m not going to stop”.
Bravo has since apologised for his comments, saying he used the expression ‘metaphorically’ as a way of expressing that Vinicius was ‘doing stupid things”.
The 22-year-old, who won the Champions League and La Liga double with Real Madrid last season, was defended by his club.
“Real Madrid condemns all types of racist and xenophobic language and behavior 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”, read a club statement.
“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.”
“Despite the fact that racism still exists, we will not allow it to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism in this way, fighting for the right to be happy.”