The lights on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer were switched off for an hour on Monday (May 22) night in a display of solidarity with Vinicius Jr after the Brazil forward was racially abused during a club match in Spain.
The lights were turned off at 6pm local time to cap a day when the Brazilian government and the world of football united to condemn the racial slurs aimed at the Real Madrid player during a Spanish league match on Sunday.
The Archdiocesan Sanctuary that manages the monument carried out the act in cooperation with the Brazilian FA and the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football.
“The Christ the Redeemer Archdiocesan Sanctuary repudiates the racist attacks suffered by the Brazilian player Vinicius Junior,” the body said in an Instagram post.
“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.”
Earlier on Monday, the Brazilian government called on Spanish and sports authorities earlier to punish those responsible for the “racist attacks” against the player, while the president of football’s governing body FIFA Gianni Infantino expressed his solidarity.
Other sporting figures such as Kylian Mbappe, Rio Ferdinand, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton also voiced their support for Vinicius Jr.
The 22-year-old Brazil international later posted a picture of the statue silhouetted against the moon on Twitter and expressed his gratitude for the support he had received.
“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,” he wrote.
Spanish Football Federation head Luis Rubiales admitted there was a real problem of racism in the country’s football where “press releases don’t work anymore”.