Note from BW of Brazil: OK, so anyone who has been following the World Cup or is a fan of Neymar, Jr. knows that the superstar recently sustained a devastating injury after being kneed in the lower back by Colombian player Camilo Zúñiga. According to reports, as the 22-year lay in agonizing pain on the field, he reportedly said to teammate Marcelo that he couldn’t feel his legs. Any fan or simply human being seeing another person in such agony surely provokes a dreadful feeling.
Indeed, millions of people probably gasped as they watched the young player being carried off the field on a stretcher with an expression of sheer agony on his face. Indeed, Brazil’s team doctor confirmed that Neymar suffered broken vertebrae and would be expected to be out of action for 4-6 weeks said doctor Rodrigo Lasmar. Another team doctor, Jose Luiz Runco, confirmed that Neymar doesn’t have any neurological injury that would compromise his life as an athlete or a human being. Although this may be little consolation for millions of Brazilians who want to see their team capture its sixth World Cup title, nevertheless, as this is an issue far beyond simply sports, this is good news.
Since the incident, Zúñiga has declare that he simply made a challenge in the play and give his best effort for his team and his country, didn’t mean any harm and hoped that Neymar recovered. Since the incident, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (Brazilian Federation of Futebol) made a request to FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee that the Colombian player be punished for his actions. In response, FIFA recently cleared the Colombian ruling that there were no bad intentions on the player’s part.
Here’s my stance on the whole thing. After having seen the play over and over on television it is difficult to believe that the player didn’t commit the act on purpose. Of course, there’s no way to have certainty, but this is my opinion. Besides this, if Zúñiga were a true sportsman and believed in true sportsmanship, I believe that after discovering the severity of Neymar’s injury, as a man, he would have visited the hospital where Neymar was recovering, apologized to him personally and wished him a full recovery. Athletes of opposing teams often help each get up after hard fouls; after all, it’s only a game. Life is something else. I haven’t heard news of Zúñiga visiting Neymar so I would say shame on him and his excuse thus comes across as only words that he may have even been coerced into saying. Beyond a lack sportsmanship, it shows a lack of humanity.
With that said, there’s yet another issue to deal with in the whole Zúñiga/Neymar incident. Again, it was brutal what Zúñiga did, but another thing altogether is the racist insults being hurled at him by angry Brazilian fans. Reports have exploded all over the internet of the insults, threats to Zúñiga and even his daughter that again bring to the forefront the character of the Brazilian people. Below is how it was reported; BW of Brazil will chime in afterward.
Fans use racist insults to criticize Zúñiga
Zúñiga and the foul that took Neymar out of the World Cup
Courtesy of Globo Extra
The life of lateral Camilo Zúñiga, the Colombian player responsible for the foul that caused Brazil’s superstar Neymar’s injury, isn’t easy. Shortly after the game, his social networking accounts received a barrage of criticism and insults from the Brazilian team’s fans. Much of the messages to the player were racist. On Twitter, the word most often used to refer to Zúñiga was ‘macaco’ meaning monkey, in a clear attempt to offend and demean the player.
“That macaco of a Colombian player deserves to suffer for the rest of his life,” wrote one user. “All a bunch of monkeys these players from Colômbia,” shared another.
Even asking for a punishment for the player, racist content was used. “I hope that macaco from Colombia suffers a punishment.” “The Cup without Neymar. I’m anger with that macaco from Colombia,” wrote two other Brazilians.
Despite the racism of much of the Brazilian crowd, quickly prejudiced behavior also began to receive criticism. Members reminded them of the case of the Brazilian player Daniel Alves when a banana was thrown at him during a game in Barcelona which resulted in #somostodosmacacos (we are all monkeys) campaign, a Brazilian action to demand the end of racism in stadiums.
At the beginning of the match between Brazil and Colombia, an announcement from #SayNoToRacism (#DigaNãoAoracismo, in Portuguese) campaign was read by the captains of the two teams, Thiago Silva and Mario Yepes.
Note from BW of Brazil: Let’s take a look at some of the insults as well as comments by those who found the comments offensive. Great to know that there are Brazilians who speak out against this type of behavior and who see the contradictions in in all of this.
Is it even necessary to comment on this? I will anyway. As several people made reference to, a few months back, Neymar himself was one of the popular public figures who helped popularize the so-called “we’re all monkeys” campaign after a banana was thrown at teammate Dani Alves on a field in Spain. As argued in a previous post, the whole thing was utterly ridiculous as it showed how Brazil still doesn’t know how to deal with the question of racism, instead choosing to make a joke out of serious issue that affects millions of non-white people throughout the country. Again, as previously argued, it shows that in the moment of racism, it is the African descendant that is insulted with the term ‘macaco’ (monkey) and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that many of the very people who supported that ridiculous slogan may have been the same people referring to Zúñiga as a monkey. It also wouldn’t be hard to believe that those same people would deny being racist.
As excuses are so predictable and also typical, I can already imagine the excuses for such behavior:
“He hurt Neymar and I was mad about this.”
“He’s a foreigner”
“He ruined our chance to win the World Cup”
All of these excuses are inexcusable and simply don’t hold any way. Why? Let’s see, first, if it had been Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi who committed this act, would they have called them a monkey? No. The association with monkeys and apes is reserved for the African descendant and has existed for centuries. Second, macaco is the favorite Brazilian way of racially insulting black Brazilians. Third, if one is not racist, what does Zúñiga’s race have to do with what he did? Again, do any of these same people hurling such insults at Zúñiga ever make racially insensitive remarks when whites commit errors? Fourth, everyday in the peripheries of Brazilian cities, young Afro-Brazilian males, many of whom look like the beloved Neymar are assassinated by Military Police whether they are guilty of a crime or not.
This parcel of the population is nearly 4 times more likely to be killed than whites in their age group. Yet, there is an overwhelming silence when the lives of these young men come into question. Fifth, there are thousands of immigrants in Brazil attending Brazilian universities, 26% of which come from Europe, one never hears about any sort of xenophobia against these students, but African immigrants are constantly discriminated against.
Luckily for Neymar, he can dribble a soccer ball and score goals for a country that earlier in the 20th century wouldn’t have even given someone with his racial appearance to have a chance to play on any of the elite soccer clubs of the day. Also luckily for Neymar, he didn’t make any major errors in the games in which he appeared, for if he did, his error may have been blamed on his race, as what happened to his teammate Marcelo.
So again, thank you to the racist Brazilian who continues to show his/her character. Because, as we all know, Brazilians aren’t racists, right? And to the other Afro-Brazilian players who will take on Germany without Neymar the boy wonder…Good luck to all of you! And don’t make any mistakes for you will surely be reminded that “You We are all monkeys!”