The death last weekend of basketball player Kobe Bryant has prompted an outpouring of grief around the world. Perhaps more surprisingly, it’s sparked an anti-homophobia campaign in Brazil.
More specifically, it’s led to a call to combat homophobia in Brazilian soccer.
Bryant spent his career playing for the LA Lakers. He was famed for wearing the number 24 shirt.
In Brazil, the number 24 represents the deer in an illegal but popular Brazilian numbers game commonly just called the animals game.
However, the deer is a creature associated with homosexuality. And because of this, many footballers and clubs refuse to use 24 on soccer shirts in case it prompts abuse.
Talk about fragile masculinity!
Following Bryant’s death, Reuters reports Bahia soccer club and football magazine Corner have launched a campaign to remove the stigma of the number 24. The magazine started sharing images of soccer shirts with the number 24 online with the hashtag #PedeA24 (Ask for 24). Bahia is using the hashtag #NúmeroDoRespeito.
Bahia’s president Guilherme Bellintani said his players will begin to wear the number: “Football can be a channel to accentuate the worst of our society, such as racism, aggression, violence and intolerance, but it can also be used in different ways, for culture, affection, sensibility and to improve human relations.”
The first to embrace the campaign is Bahia’s midfielder Flávio Medeiros da Silva, better known simply known as Flávio. He wore the shirt for the first time during a match on Tuesday and said he will continue to wear it through until December.
MAIS UMA AULA DO ESPORTE CLUBE BAHIA! ???
Em homenagem a Kobe Bryant, o @ECBahia vai usar na camisa o número 2?4?, eternizado pela lenda. E aproveitou para mandar um recado contra o preconceito: 2?4? não é o número proibido, mas o #NúmeroDoRespeito? pic.twitter.com/r25M2GV0Nj
— Esporte Interativo (@Esp_Interativo) January 28, 2020
“I think it’s very silly that nobody uses the number 24 in Brazil. We have to respect everyone, regardless of gender, race and sexual option,” the player said.
Basketball legend Bryant, 41, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna (‘Gigi’), died with seven others when a helicopter they were traveling in crashed in thick fog in Southern California last Sunday.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, made her first statement about the crash on Wednesday. She thanked all those who had shown her and her three other daughters love and support, “during this horrific time … We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna – a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.”
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