Orlando Leite, Ambassador of Brazil: "Vinicius does not bow his head to insults"

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He is the highest authority of Brazil in Spain and has been watching with concern for four days the outbreak of the situation that a compatriot of his lives in our football.

Orlando Leite, ambassador of Brazil in Spain
Orlando Leite, ambassador of Brazil in Spain.PATXI CORRALARAB PRESS

The tsunami’ Vinicius Junior has put our country in the global focus of racism, but Orlando Leite, Brazilian ambassador, does not believe that Spain is xenophobic. “Spain is not a racist country, but reality and the perception of reality are two very different things,” he told EL MUNDO from Bilbao, where he is on an institutional visit.

What state is the Vinicius case in now?
I received two calls on Tuesday morning from the general director of the National Police. He told me about the arrest of four people for the doll (he refers to the appearance of a doll hanging from a bridge with the sign “Madrid hates Real”) and three others for what happened last Sunday at Mestalla.
And have you spoken to someone from the government?
Yes, twice with Juan FernΓ‘ndez Trigo, Secretary of State for Latin America and the Caribbean and Spanish in the World. The first thing we talked about had already been the subject of my last visit to his office, which was about the doll. So I went with a note to show my disagreement. He apologized on behalf of the Spanish government.
What do you think of the measures taken as a result of the events at Mestalla, both inside and outside the stadium?
I think they are a good start, but we still hope that those responsible are punished. The fact also has a very big repercussion because it is not the first time, there have been nine. What is surprising is that there was not a single conviction for these crimes, the teams did not lose points, there were no stadiums closed… There are many things that could not be done, but now they have been done.
Are you not surprised that the arrests for the doll on the bridge are just now, shortly after what happened in Valencia?
The coincidence was not good. We have an excellent relationship with the National Police and it is not that simple. The important thing is that they have been arrested and the process has begun, now let’s see how it ends. The interpretation that the judges now make of the facts may lead one way or another.
Do you think that this complaint by Vinicius Junior is going to mark a before and after in the fight against racism in Spain?
You have to fight racism and sport is a perfect speaker to do it. I hope it is a turning point in the matter, yes. It was a very sad episode, but we hope it helps change the mindset. It is incredible that in 2023 there would be this type of insult in a society like Spain.
Why always Vinicius and not another player?
He is very good and also does not lower his head to insults.
Vinicius Junior already suffered two similar incidents in his country in 2017 and 2018 and, at that time, he also called Brazil racist.
Xenophobia is in Spain, Brazil and everywhere. The question is not the presence of racism in this place or in another, but the way and the will to combat it. Today in Brazil we have a ministry that deals precisely with this and is represented by the Minister of Racial Equality of Brazil, Anielle Franco.
Has the image of the country changed after the departure of former president Jair Bolsonaro?
I arrived in Spain a year ago and Bolsonaro was president of the country, but Lula da Silva gives more importance to this issue, hence the creation of the ministry. In addition, the minister has a very high profile and is known for her strong stance against xenophobia.
Neymar Jr. and other stars who support Vinicius also supported Bolsonaro at the time. Isn’t that contradictory?
Each responds in their own way to these unpleasant situations. One thing is the defense of values ​​and the other is the political position. That is why people have voted for Lula. It happens all over the world, there are many governments supported by the extreme right, but each person takes stock and chooses.

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