Vinicius returns to Mestalla encouraged by the courage of Colin Kaepernick | Soccer | Sports

A little less than a month before returning to Mestalla this Saturday (9:00 p.m., Movistar), Vinicius received a visit that has had an important bearing on how he faces racist attacks like the one that the last time he played in Valencia led him to stop the game. to point out several people who were insulting him from the stands. On February 6, he spent two hours speaking at his home in Madrid with Colin Kaepernick, the former American football player whose NFL career ended when he led a protest against “police brutality and the oppression suffered by black people” by kneeling during the performance of the American anthem before games. At the end, he shared on

The people who work and live with him also perceived that those two hours had meant a transformation. They say that the talk with Kaepernick, developed with the help of a translator, gave him an extra point of courage. They believe that he has enough strength to leave a match if the racist attacks are repeated in another match.

Much of the meeting, facilitated by the sports brand that sponsors them both, was occupied by Kaepernick’s telling of his personal story. The former player, the son of an interracial couple, was adopted by a white couple, with whom he never found his place. Kaepernick has even denounced racism from his adoptive parents. In his adolescence he went through a tortuous search for his black roots in a white environment that rejected him and with which he did not feel identified. He also drew Vinicius an overview of racism in the United States and how the fight for equality is proposed. After the talk, which Netflix did not record for his documentary, the Brazilian commented to his team that what he endured seemed little compared to what black people go through in other environments.

The conversation with Kaepernick was part of a kind of Vinicius curriculum on racism. He is clear that he wants to be an important voice in the fight against discrimination, but both he and his people are aware that he has not had time to learn about other experiences of suffering and struggle and different perspectives. That’s why in recent months he has spent a lot of time talking to activists, many of them Brazilian, and watching films and documentaries about the problem. As the recreation of the story of NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo; the journey to the deep segregated South of Green Book; the film Brian Banks, a black boy who dreamed of playing in the NFL but ended up in jail convicted of a crime he had not committed; either 42perhaps the film that has impacted him the most.

It tells the story of Jackie Brown, the first black professional baseball player. With the match at Mestalla already looming, sources around Vinicius pointed out a sequence in the film that he considers especially significant. The Dodger bus, Brown’s team, arrives at the hotel where they had always stayed and is told that they are not allowed to stay because they have a black player, then the only one in the league. In the tension of the moment, one of Brown’s teammates, frustrated, confronts him: “I’m a baseball player. “I’m here to play,” he tells her. “Me too. “I’m here to win.” Vinicius saw himself reflected in that moment.

His team is very aware that they need to find ways for the Brazilian to become more and more abstracted from the environment. They say that it is important for him to start changing, because both they and he agree that rival fans manage to distract him from time to time and take him out of games. He himself verbalized it in the Super Cup in Arabia: “I want to be a better person. I want to give everything for the team. But I end up angering others. I have to improve,” he said. “I’m not a saint. Sometimes I talk too much, sometimes I dribble that I shouldn’t do, but I’m here to improve.”

Carlo Ancelotti has also often insisted that when the Brazilian focuses on the game he is unstoppable. This Friday, in the appearance before tonight’s game, he focused on reducing the tension: “The idea is to go play a great soccer game against a strong rival. And I think Valencia thinks the same, to play a great football game,” he said. Although without erasing what happened on May 21 in the same stadium: “Don’t forget what happened last year. When there are racist acts we have to condemn them. Valencia himself did very well last year, because he has identified those who have committed a crime, because racism is a crime, and it is what we all have to do, the entire football family.”

He also recalled the fire on February 22 in Valencia, whose victims will be remembered before the start: “We are going to play in a city that in recent weeks has suffered a tragedy. It is difficult to forget this, but we feel very supportive of the affected families. That’s why I think it’s even more important to play the best game possible.”

The Italian, who assured that he has not done anything special these days with Vinicius, sees him ready to do precisely that: “He has prepared himself to play the best game possible,” he said. “His best quality about him is that he enjoys football, he really likes playing football.”

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