An innocent Instagram photo of the Brazilian soccer star known as Emerson Sheik kissing a male friend has brought the sport’s problem with homophobia to filtered light.
Emerson plays for the Corinthians, whose sports complex was picketed by a small group of five bigots brandishing signs with wonderfully catchy slogans like “Fuck off and kiss somewhere else; this is a place for men,” and the pithy “No gays” shortly after the photo was uploaded.
“It’s not homophobia or anything,” protested one of the protesters, “we just don’t want it here.” We’re assuming he took a break from chanting “We don’t accept homosexuals” with his fellow non-homophobes to get that out.
According to Brazilian football connoisseur Jack Long, writing for Yahoo! Sports, this kind of anti-gay animosity is par for the
course soccer field:
In 2007, Palmeiras director José Cyrillo Júnior insinuated on a talk show that Richarlyson, a player for rivals São Paulo, was gay. The player – who has since had to cope with all manner of abuse from opposition fans, despite denying the accusation – took Cyrillo to court, where the judge himself came out with this cracker: “Football is a macho, virile… not homosexual.”
For his part, Emerson — who apparently has a gay monkey named Cuta? — isn’t sanding for any abuse and has lashed out at his critics. “It’s an idiotic prejudice,” he told sports daily Lance! “It was something natural – that was Emerson the person, not Emerson the footballer.”
The caption of Emerson the person’s photo reads, roughly, “One has to be very brave to celebrate friendship without fear of what the bigots will say. It has to be very free to celebrate a victory so clean face with a friend who always supports you.”