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Brazil forward Rodrygo confronts racism online

MADRID (AP) — Brazil forward Rodrygo has been the target of racist abuse on social media following the World Cup qualifying game against Argentina.

“The racists are always out there,” Rodrygo, who is Black, said in a message posted Thursday. “My social networks have been invaded with insults and all kinds of absurdity. It’s all there for everyone to see.”

The player said many of the racist messages included photos and emoticons of monkeys or bananas.

“If we don’t do what they want, if we don’t behave like they think we should, if we wear something that bothers them, if we don’t lower our heads when we are attacked, if we occupy spaces that they think belong to them, the racists will come into action with their criminal behaviour. Too bad for them. We will not stop,” Rodrygo said.

Rodrygo attracted attention during Tuesday’s match after a spat with Argentina players Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul during the delay caused by fights between fans, police and security guards in the stands of the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Argentina won the match 1-0.

Rodrygo’s Real Madrid teammate Vinícius Júnior was the target of racist insults in Spain last season, prompting an outpouring of support for the player.

Brazil’s Rodrygo, center, is challenged by Argentina’s Giovani Lo Celso, right, and Rodrigo De Paul during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Nov 21, 2023. PHOTO: AP