Brazilian soccer unites against racism

Rio de Janeiro, May 27 (EFE).- Brazilian first division soccer is mounting an anti-racism campaign spurred by racist abuse directed at Brazil international and Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr. last Sunday during a match in Spain.

In the 10 games scheduled for this weekend, all of the players will wear uniforms bearing the message “There is no playing with racism.”

The same slogan will appear on the balls, the captains’ armbands, the shirts of the officials, and even on the bits of metal used for the coin toss.

At the start of each match, the players are to sit on the pitch for 30 seconds while the stadium screens display clips of prominent Brazilians affirming, “There is no playing with racism.”

Saturday’s contests saw some players raise their fists in the air during the pre-game ceremony.

In a statement announcing the initiative, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) noted with pride that it was the world’s first national soccer governing body to mandate points deductions for clubs who fail to keep their stadiums free of racism.

Some individual clubs have adopted additional measures of their own.

Fortaleza and Vasco da Gama published match programs that omitted photos of black players as a comment on their “invisibility,” while Flamengo, Brazil’s most popular team, added to the shirts of their men’s and women’s squads an image of a clenched fist with the words “A Luta” (The Struggle).

The CBF said that it is also planning anti-racism events for the national side’s friendlies next month in Barcelona and Lisbon against Guinea and Senegal, respectively, and that it purposely arranged to play African squads in European stadiums.

Last Sunday in Valencia, Vini Jr. was subjected to racist abuse both before and during a match and received a red card – later rescinded – for an altercation on the pitch.

Valencia helped authorities identity three fans as the source of the abuse and banned them for life from Mestalla stadium. The three young men were also arrested on suspicion of a hate crime.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, denounced racism and xenophobia and urged a tougher response from Spanish authorities and the football world.

This week has also seen protests in support of Vinicius in front of the Spanish Embassy in Brasilia and Spain’s consulates in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

EFE cm/dr

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