Vinicius Jr, the talented Brazilian winger for Real Madrid, was subjected to comments that have been perceived as racist. His dance celebration led Pedro Bravo, head of the Spanish Football Agents’ Association (AEAF), to compare his behaviour with that of a monkey.
While Bravo later clarified in a tweet that he’d used the “monkey” analogy to highlight the folly of the 22-year-old’s actions, several Brazilians including Pele and Neymar already took umbrage and rushed to support the winger.
Vinicius Jr also put up a long post, slamming racism and xenophobia that’s plagued Brazilian footballers, especially those who compete in European leagues. Here’s a look at five Brazilian footballers who’ve faced racism.
Neymar Jr accused Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez of calling him a monkey, during his time with PSG. The Brazilian was sent off for being aggressive but posted on Twitter that his actions stemmed from the racist comment hurled at him.
When asked about the incident, Gonzalez said “There is no place for racism”, and shared an image of himself surrounded by teammates from different ethnic backgrounds.
Before Neymar’s fiasco, Dani Alves had to face the brunt of a racist Villarreal fan who threw a banana at the Brazilian when he stepped up to take a corner. Alves responded by peeling the banana and eating it, and the incident sparked the hashtag “We are all monkeys”, on Twitter.
Speaking to BBC Brasil, Alves said at the time, “I hope that this (campaign) can be an alert to ban this kind of attitude from football altogether. I hope the debate about racial prejudice will not fade away, but stays on permanently and not be restricted only to football”.
Fred, the Manchester United midfielder, has also been subject to racial abuse. Several people hurled slurs and compared the Brazilian to a monkey, via emojis, on Instagram, both after the loss to Leicester in March 2021, and the defeat to Liverpool in May that year.
After the Leicester debacle, where Fred was at fault for conceding the first goal, the 29-year-old had said that people need to be “bigger and better than that”.
Real Madrid full-back Marcelo was also subjected to racism after they won the 2014 Copa del Rey fixture against Atletico Madrid. When the player went onto the field for a warm-down session, after they won the game 3-0, monkey noises were heard from Atletico fans who hadn’t yet left the stadium. Chants were also reportedly directed at Marcelo’s son.
However, Marcelo said he was “stronger than any sort of racism”, and it would never affect him or his family.
Brazilian attacking midfielder Ronaldinho is considered to be one of the best in the world, during his prime, and his game was defined by skills which seemed effortless at his feet. However, when Ronaldinho transferred to the Mexican side Querétaro, he faced racism from a local politician.
Carlos Manuel Treviño, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), had written on Facebook “I’m really trying to be tolerant, but I hate football and the way it makes everyone turn into idiots. I hate it even more because people flood the streets and block my way, meaning it takes two hours to get home, and all just to see an ape; a Brazilian, but an ape nonetheless. This circus has become absolutely ridiculous”.
The Mexican club slammed the racist comments and demanded action be taken against Treviño.