Real Madrid defends Brazilian star in racism row


Vinicius Junior was told to stop being a “monkey” when celebrating goals by a leading Spanish football agent

Real Madrid have supported star winger Vinicius after a leading football agent in Spain used a term deemed racist to advise the 22-year-old to stop dancing the samba during goal celebrations.

Appearing on the El Chiringuito de Jugones TV program on Thursday night, Pedro Bravo advised Vinicius to “dejar de ser el mono,” which means to ‘stop clowning around’ in Spanish, but is literally translated as ‘stop being a monkey’.

As the Portuguese equivalent of ‘mono’ – ‘macaco’ – is used as a disparaging term in his native tongue, Vinicius and compatriots such as Pele say the comments were racist.

“Vinicius will have to respect opponents. If you want to dance, go to the Sambadrome in Brazil. In Spain you have to respect the opposition and stop clowning around,” Bravo said.

Real Madrid condemned the outburst in a statement on Friday and defended their player, who scored the winning goal in May’s 1-0 Champions League final against Liverpool to secure a record 14th European Cup.

“Real Madrid CF rejects all [forms] of racist and xenophobic expressions and behaviors in … football, sport, and life in general, such as the regrettable and unfortunate comments made in recent hours against our player Vinicius Junior,” the statement began.

“Real Madrid wants to show all its love and support for Vinicius Junior, a player who understands football as an attitude towards life based on joy, respect and sportsmanship.
“Football, which is the most global sport that exists, must be an example of values and coexistence. The club has instructed its legal services to take legal action against anyone who uses racist expressions towards our players,” the La Liga champions said.

Bravo later tweeted that he used the phrase to communicate that Vinicius Junior is “doing stupid things.”

“I want to clarify that the expression ‘playing the monkey’ that I have misused to qualify Vinicius’ goal celebration dance was done metaphorically,” he said. “Since my intention was not to offend anyone, I sincerely apologize. I am sorry!”

In a defiant video published on social media on Friday, Vinicius vowed to carry on regardless.

“They say that happiness bothers. The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more.

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“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, Paqueta, 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,” he said.

In Sunday’s Madrid derby in the Spanish top flight, it remains to be seen how Vinicius will be received if he scores and celebrates in his usual style, after Atletico Madrid captain Koke warned him that “there will be trouble, for sure.”

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