Twinkle-toed Brazil winger Vinicius Jr has hit back at criticism of his team’s celebratory dance routines following goals, saying he and his teammates would “continue to express our joy”.
The 22-year-old, whose goal against South Korea opened the floodgates in Brazil’s round-of-16 match on Monday, was speaking out after media commentators, including former Manchester United player Roy Keane, griped about the exuberant celebrations. Brazil coach Tite had joined in the dance.
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“[Scoring] goals is the most important thing in football,” said the Real Madrid star. “[The dancing] shows – not just that we are happy – but the whole country is happy for us now at the World Cup.”
The dancing was “disrespectful” to their opponents, said Keane, now a pundit whose cultivated surliness is a hallmark of his media profile.
“They’re doing it every time,” Keane told ITV. “I don’t mind the first kind of little jig – whatever they’re doing – but they’re still doing it after that and then the manager getting involved with it. I’m not happy with it, I don’t think it’s very good at all.”
But Vinicius Jr disagreed, “Hopefully, we still have a lot of goals to celebrate, to keep dancing, playing well and reaching the final with this rhythm. Of course, people always like to complain when they see others happy. But Brazilian people are always very happy, so we will always look to positively affect others. Hopefully, we can continue to express our joy. There are more people supporting us than are against us.”
Tite, who has announced he will be retiring after this World Cup campaign, backed up his player – but said he understood the optics.
“There are always spiteful people who will understand it as disrespect. I told the players to hide me a little, I know about the visibility,” he said. “I didn’t want it to have any other interpretation than the joy of the goal, the result, the performance, but not disrespect for the opponent or [South Korea coach] Paulo Bento, for whom I have a lot of respect.” Brazil won 4-1.
Brazil’s flamboyant footballing style has always brought the carnival to the pitch; the samba nation’s side is known for the showboating tricks and flicks that make the team a delight to watch for millions around the globe.
Former Watford striker Richarlison has a tendency to celebrate his goals with a pigeon dance, joined by other players and team officials nearby.
But the World Cup has long had a tradition of introducing fans to spectacular moves better suited to the dance floor. For many, the 1990 World Cup in Italy will always be remembered for the great Roger Milla, the 38-year-old Cameroonian star who set the world alight in Italy in 1990 with his moves at the corner flag after scoring in the round of 16 against Colombia.
Roger Milla with one of the most iconic celebrations of all time, Italia '90. pic.twitter.com/yCmRztMLIq
— 90s Football (@90sfootball) December 7, 2022
That started the craze of elaborate goal celebrations. Brazil’s Bebeto in 1994, celebrated not only his goals — he scored three at the World Cup — but the recent arrival of his newborn child, with the “baby-rocking” gesture.
It’s a Brazil thing 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/Od3QVSNElg
— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 6, 2022
Keane himself found his own exuberant goal celebration going viral on Twitter this week, after he scored in the BBC vs ITV five-a-side match in Qatar. The pundit scored the winning goal, before taking his shirt off and jumping over a bin.
🤩🏆 ITV vs BBC in Doha. Last minute of the game. The ball falls to Roy Keane on the edge of the box…pic.twitter.com/eBOUcezyDT
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) December 7, 2022