Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior vowed to keep speaking out against racism in world soccer after receiving the Socrates Award on Monday at the Ballon d’Or ceremony for his contribution off the field.
Vinícius, who has been racially abused repeatedly in LaLiga games over the last two seasons, was recognized for starting a foundation that is building schools in impoverished areas and investing in education in Brazil.
“I will remain strong in the fight against racism,” said the Brazilian, who received the award from the Prince of Monaco. “It is a very sad thing to talk about racism nowadays, but we have to continue in the fight so that people suffer less.
“Very happy to receive this award and to help many children in Brazil. I had little chance of getting where I have coming from where I came so it is a pleasure for me to help as many kid as I can so they can have a chance.”
The 23-year-old was the only Brazilian in the top 10 of the ranking for this year’s Ballon d’Or after scoring 23 goals in all competitions for Madrid last season.
The forward was also part of an emotional tribute to Pelé, the Brazil great who died in December last year at the age of 82.
“Pele is a god for me and if I am here today, it is thanks to him. He put Brazil on a different level and people respect Brazilian players thanks to the great legacy he left,” Vinicius said.
The Vini Jr. Institute, created in 2020, aims to use the popularity of football to help innovations in teaching and learning in Brazilian public schools.
The project claims up to 15 schools and 10,000 students will benefit by the end of 2023, with more than 500 teachers employed.