The body that manages the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro turned off the lights for an hour yesterday evening in a show of solidarity with Brazilian footballer Vinicius Jr, who has been subjected to brutal racist abuse in Spain. The act was carried out by the Archdiocesan Sanctuary that manages the monument, in cooperation with the Brazilian FA and the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football. In a post on Instagram, the body said: ‘The Christ the Redeemer Archdiocesan Sanctuary repudiates the racist attacks suffered by the Brazilian player Vinicius Junior. The lighting of the monument will be switched off as a symbol of the collective fight against racism and in solidarity with the player and all those who suffer prejudice around the world.’
Sharing an image of the statue standing dark against the evening sky, Vinicius wrote: ‘Black and imposing. Christ the Redeemer was like this just now. An action of solidarity that moved me. But I want, above all, to inspire and bring more light to our struggle.’ His message of defiance against racist fans has drawn messages of support from figures including Kylian Mbappe, Rio Ferdinand, Fifa president Gianni Infantino and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. The Brazilian government also condemned the ‘racist attacks’ suffered by Vinicius in a statement yesterday, while Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales admitted the sport has a real problem with racism.
Vinicius tried to raise the racist abuse with the match’s referee during Real Madrid’s game against Valencia on Sunday night, which was paused for 10 minutes as he pointed out people in the crowd who were mocking him with abusive chants. His club later lodged a hate crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors, saying the episodes ‘represent a direct attack on the social and democratic model of coexistence of our state based on the rule of law’. It was the 10th time an incident of alleged racism involving the star had been formally reported this season, according to La Liga. Earlier this morning, Spain’s national police tweeted that three young people had been arrested for racist conduct that took place during the match.