Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr has condemned what he has described as the racist criticism he received for his dancing goal celebrations.
While appearing on Spanish TV on Friday, Pedro Bravo – a leading agent and president of the Association of Spanish Agents – compared Vinicius Jr’s dancing celebrations after scoring to the behavior of a monkey, arguing the forward was not respecting his opponents and “should stop playing the monkey.”
“When you score against a rival, if you want to dance samba, you go to the sambadrome in Brazil, here what you have to do is to respect your colleagues and stop playing the monkey,” he said.
Bravo was accused of using racist language by many on social media and has since apologized on Twitter, explaining he had misused a metaphor.
But in a video posted on Vinicius Jr’s social media on September 16, the Brazil international addressed the criticism and said he would not stop dancing.
“‘As long as skin color is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war.’” I have this sentence tattooed on my body,” Vinicius Jr said in his Instagram post.
“This thought is permanent in my head. This is the attitude and philosophy I try to practice in my life. They say happiness upsets. The happiness of a Black Brazilian successful in Europe upsets much more!
“But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are bigger than all of this. You can’t even imagine. I was a victim of xenophobia and racism in a single statement. But none of this started yesterday.”
The 22-year-old named other players who also danced in celebration after scoring. He added: “Weeks ago, they started criminalizing my dances. Dances that are not mine. They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, (Lucas) Paquetá, (Antoine) Griezmann, João Félix, Matheus Cunha … they belong to Brazilian Funk and Samba artists, to reggaeton singers and to Black Americans.
“They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I’m not going to stop.
“The script always ends with an apology and an ‘I’ve been misunderstood’, but I’ll repeat it for you, racist: I will not stop dancing. Whether it’s in the Sambadrome, in the Bernabéu or wherever.”
In his apology on Twitter, Bravo said: “I want to clarify that the expression ‘playing the monkey’ which I misused to describe Vinicius’ goal celebration dance was employed metaphorically (“to play the fool”) Since my intention was not to offend anyone, I sincerely apologize, I’m sorry.”
Neither the Association of Spanish Agents or Atresmeidia, the broadcaster of the program where Bravo made his comments, immediately responded to CNN’s request for comment.
The agent’s comments came after Atletico Madrid player Koke Resurrección warned Vinicius not to dance if he scored in Sunday’s Madrid derby.
Speaking ahead of that match, Atletico boss Diego Simeone said: “We live in a society in which we are all involved. We are people and this is the society we have.”
The Brazil national team offered its support for Vinicius Jr. “There will be dancing, dribbling, but above all (there will be) respect,” it wrote on Twitter, accompanied with a video of Vinicius Jr and his international teammates, Neymar and Lucas Paquetá, dancing after a goal.
“Our athlete (Vinicius Jr) was a target of racist statements on this Thursday night (15th). CBF reinforces and is in solidarity with #BailaViniJr.”
Real Madrid, for whom Vinicius Jr has enjoyed an excellent start to the season with five goals in eight games, said in a statement that the club would take “legal action against anyone who makes racist remarks toward our players.”
Vinicius Jr explained that he has been working to ensure future generations would be better educated about such matters.
“I come from a country where poverty is very great, where people don’t have access to education, and in many cases, no food on the table,” he said.
“On and off the field, I have developed an application to help with the education of children in public schools without financial help from anyone. I am building a school in my name. I will do much more for education. I want the following generations to be prepared, like I am, to fight against racists and xenophobes.
“I always try to be a professional and an exemplary citizen. But this doesn’t get ‘clicks’, it’s not trending on the internet, nor does it motivate the cowards to speak aggressively about people they don’t even know.”