Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid have issued strong statements after the winger was racially abused by a Spanish agent.
On Spanish television channel El Chiringuito, agent Pedro Bravo bizarrely urged the 22-year-old to stop dancing when he celebrates goals, claiming “in Spain, you have to respect rivals and stop playing the monkey”.
Bravo has apologised for the remark, saying he misused a metaphor, but Vinicius denounced it, calling it racism and being backed up by his club.
“While the colour of skin is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war. I have this phrase tattooed on my body. I have this thought permanently in my head. That is the attitude and philosophy that I try to put into practice in my life. They say happiness annoys [them]. The happiness of a black Brazilian victorious in Europe annoys them much more.
“But my desire to win, my smile and the brightness of my eyes are much bigger than that. You cannot even imagine it. I was victim of xenophobia and racism in a single statement. But none of that started yesterday.
“A few weeks ago they began to criminalise my dances. Dances that are not mine. They are from Ronaldinho, Neymar, Paqueta, Griezmann, Joao Felix, Matheus Cunha…they are funk artists, Brazilian sambistas, from Reggaeton artists, and from black Americans. They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I will not stop.
“I come from a country where there is a great amount of poverty, where the people don’t have access to educations…and in many cases, not even food on the table. I don’t tend to come out publicly to address criticism. They attack me and I don’t speak. They praise me and I don’t speak either. I work! I work a lot.
“On and off the pitch. I have developed an app to help the education of children in public schools without any financial help from anyone. I am building a school in my name. I will do much more for education. I want the next generations to be prepared, as I was, to fight against racists and xenophobes.
“I always try to be a professional and an exemplary citizen. But that does not attract clicks, it is not the trend on the internet, nor does it motivate the cowards to speak aggressively about people that they don’t even know.
“The plot always ends the with an apology and a ‘they misinterpreted me’. But I repeat to you, racist: I will not stop dancing. No matter if it is at the Sambadromo, at the Bernabeu or wherever it may be.
“With love and the smiles of someone who is very happy, Vini. Jr. #BailaVini.”
A statement from Real adds: “Real Madrid CF rejects all kinds of racist and xenophobic expressions and behaviours in the field of football, sport and life in general, such as the regrettable and unfortunate comments made in recent hours against our player Vinicius Junior.
“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.”
Legendary Brazil striker Pele and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar have both given Vinicius their support on social media, as well as Rayo Vallecano striker Radamel Falcao.
The Brazilian Football Federation also supported Vinicius, calling for “dancing, dribbling and above all respect”.