Soccer: Brazil to play African nations in anti-racism campaign to support Vinicius Jr

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - Valencia v Real Madrid - Mestalla, Valencia, Spain - May 21, 2023 Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior gestures towards a fan after witnessing abuse as Valencia's Jose Gaya and Cenk Ozkacar attempt to restrain him REUTERS/Pablo Morano/File Photo

(Reuters) - Brazil will play friendlies against two African nations as part of an anti-racism campaign in support of their Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr, who has been racially abused in Spanish League games this season, the Brazilian FA (CBF) said on Friday.

The five-time world champions will face Guinea in Barcelona on June 17 and Senegal in Lisbon three days later.

The CBF has also launched a national campaign against racism in Brazilian league matches starting this weekend following the racist insults 22-year-old Vinicius Jr suffered in a LaLiga match at Valencia on Sunday, the 10th such episode against the player that LaLiga has reported to prosecutors this season.

With the slogan "There is no game with racism", the CBF aims to extend the fight started in 2022 under its new president Ednaldo Rodrigues, who pushed for changes in legislation that saw the football authorities and Brazilian justice system apply more severe punishments against racism in stadiums.

“We want Brazil to lead the fight against racism worldwide,” Rodrigues told Reuters in a interview on March.

The CBF worked closely with Vinicius Jr on the details surrounding the two friendlies as it wanted to be sure the player was comfortable with the matches being held in Iberia and the Real Madrid winger supported the idea, sources said.

With the CBF still looking for a new national team manager, Brazil will again be coached by caretaker Ramon Menezes, who will leave the Under-20s for a day during the World Cup that is currently being played in Argentina to announce on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro the squad for the Barcelona and Lisbon friendlies.

Rodrigues told Reuters in March that Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti would be an obvious choice for the vacant Brazil post if he was available at the end of the European season.

However, last week the Italian said he would honour the last year of his contract at the Bernabeu.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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