The Rio de Janeiro government on Wednesday named an anti-racism law after Real Madrid forward and Afro-Brazilian Vinicius Jr. The “Vini Jr law”, which the Rio government unanimously approved last month, will ensure sporting events are stopped or suspended in case of racist conduct, Reuters reported.
22-year-old Vinicius has been racially abused many times. In May when Madrid played Valencia and the player was racially insulted by fans, it was the 10th time such an incident was happening. The anti-racism law in Rio was inspired by Vinicius’ response to the May incident at Mestalla Stadium in Spain, where the game was stopped for minutes as he pointed at the section of the stadium where the racial insults were coming from.
Spanish police later arrested seven people accused of being involved. The law named after the soccer star also includes “protocol on how to process complaints of racism and mandatory educational campaigns,” Reuters said.
Vinicius was presented with awards from Rio’s legislative assembly and city council during a ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium. His footprints were added to the stadium’s walk of fame, beside those of Brazilian legends such as Pele, Garrincha and Ronaldo, the news site reported.
“Today is a very special day and I hope my family is very proud,” Vinicius said at the ceremony. “I am very young and I didn’t expect that I would be receiving this tribute.”
“I didn’t expect so many awards and to receive all this affection at the Maracanã, where I attended and played so many Flamengo matches,” he noted.
Since the Madrid player arrived in Spain five years ago, racist insults have been hurled at him several times by some football spectators who also have issues with how he celebrates his goals by dancing. Recently, the Real Madrid star was subjected to racist abuse during a tense match with rival city club Atletico Madrid. Fans of Atletico Madrid reportedly made monkey noises at the 22-year-old forward before and during the course of the game.
“They say that happiness bothers,” Vinicius said in reference to what happened during their match against Atletico Madrid. “The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more. 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, [Lucas] Paqueta, [Antoine] 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.”
Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary for Sports Rafael Picciani said after the announcement of the new law that it was an honor to pay tribute to “an idol of Brazilian football, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro.” Picciani said apart from Vinicius’ career achievements, he has also become a symbol of the fight against racism.