Real’s Vinicius Jr has responded to criticism of the ‘racist’ celebration

Vinicius Jr. has made a fruitful start to this season after his goals in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Liverpool last campaign.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior says the “happiness of a black Brazilian in Europe” is behind criticism of his goal celebrations.

Agent Pedro Bravo told the 22-year-old in a Spanish TV debate that “in Spain you have to respect your rivals and stop playing the monkey”, sparking accusations of racism.

Bravo has since he apologized on Twitterexternal linksaying that he misused a metaphor.

“Accept it, respect it. In any case, I will not stop!”, added Vinicius.external link

The Brazil international, who has scored five goals in eight games for the European champions this season, points out that he is far from the first player to dance in celebration, listing other stars who do the same.

“They started criticizing my dance a few weeks ago. But the dance is not just mine,” said Vinicius.

“Ronaldinho’s, Neymar’s, [Lucas] package, [Antoine] Griezmann, Joao Felix, Matheus Cunha… Brazilian funk singers and samba dancers, Latin reggaeton singers, black Americans.

“They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world.

“They say happiness gets in the way. The happiness of a black Brazilian being successful in Europe is much more of a concern.

“But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes is much greater than that.”

Vinicius has had the support of his club, country, teammates and opponents.

Brazil teammate Neymar, who plays for Paris St-Germain, posted a photo of the pair dancing on international duty.

“Dribbling, dancing and being you! Happy as you are. Go boy, we dance the next goal,” wrote Neymar.

Rayo Vallecano and Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who had two successful seasons with Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid, have expressed their support, saying the pair were “together until the end”.

Eighty-one-year-old Brazilian legend Pele, a three-time World Cup winner, said Vinicius’ celebrations summed up the spirit of football.

“Football is joy. It’s a dance. It’s a real party. Even though racism still exists, we won’t let it stop us from smiling.” he wrote on Twitter.external link

Real Madrid gave a statementexternal link “Expressing our love and support to Vinicius Junior, a player who embraces football as an attitude to life through joy, respect and sportsmanship.”

The club added that it condemned the “unfortunate and deplorable comments made against our player” and would take legal action against anyone who makes racist comments towards its players.

The Brazilian Football Federation has called for “dancing, dribbling and above all respect” in a statement of solidarity.