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Having scored twice in Brazil’s debut at the World Cup, the 25-year-old forward player Richarlison stands out from the conservative profile of other Brazilian national team players. Brasil de Fato lists five moments in which he showed political and social awareness.
From racism episodes to the tragedy of the pandemic and even the fires in the Pantanal (Brazil’s wetlands), Richarlison moved away from soccer players’ inertia and took a progressive stance on these issues.
Take a look at the list below:
“It could be me”
In June 2021, in an interview with the sports magazine Placar, Richarlison mentioned the killings of 14-year-old boy João Pedro, killed by police officers during an operation at Complexo do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro, and George Floyd, who was suffocated by a police officer in the city of Minneapolis, US.
“Racism is an issue that we, people from favelas, are used to. I have always been treated differently. I followed João Pedro’s case, in which the Police shot his house seventy times (the kid was shot during the operation). It could be me. Back then, I lived with shootings and was even mistaken for a drug dealer,” Richarlison recalled.
“I also followed the case that took place in the US (the killing of Afro-American man George Floyd, who was suffocated to death by an officer). These people on the streets have the right to protest and demand justice. If I were there, I would do the same,” he concluded.
Before this year’s World Cup, captains of the European national teams decided they would enter the field with the inscription “One Love” and the colors of the LGBT flag on their armbands.
It was a protest against the Qatari government’s attacks on the rights of the country’s LGBT population. The Arab country considers it a crime to be gay. In a press conference before the beginning of the World Cup, Richarlison did not avoid the issue and supported the protest.
“Regardless of anything, we have to respect [people]. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know if players will use the armbands, but I support any action. We live in a dangerous world where we can’t have opinions, whether against racism or in support of LGBT people. I support any movement.”
Oxygen for the city of Manaus
On January 14, 2021, at the height of contaminations and deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil watched astonished at the health system crisis in Manaus. The city’s hospitals did not have oxygen cylinders to meet the needs of patients suffering from respiratory problems.
Artists started a campaign to raise donations of oxygen cylinders for the city’s hospitals. In response, the Brazilian soccer player spoke out on the issue and donated ten cylinders to the local health system.
During the pandemic, in November 2021, Richarlison took part in a pro-vaccination campaign. At the time, the Jair Bolsonaro government (Liberal Party) insisted on methods that lack scientific evidence of therapeutic effectiveness to cure Covid-19. The government also did not consider vaccines.
It was then that the Brazilian soccer player decided to post on his social media accounts a text along with an image in which he encouraged people to take the vaccine.
Picture: “Please do not miss your vaccination.”
Worried about the frequent fires in the Pantanal biome that kill thousands of animals, Richarlison traveled to the region and adopted a jaguar (known in Brazil as “onça-pintada”) that is cared for by an ONG that works to preserve this kind of animal.
“Besides learning about what inspired the newly designed Brazilian official uniform, the experience was so nice that I symbolically adopted a jaguar I named Acerola (a fruit also known as Barbados cherry). Acerola will keep living with other jaguars and animals, free, but monitored by the NGO as part of a study to better understand this animal’s behavior and preserve it. I hope to travel to the Pantanal soon and say hello to Acerola,” Richarlison wrote in a post.