The five-time winner of Brazil’s top division has spoken out about what he feels are frequently misguided accusations of racism in football, explaining his belief that players are often merely teasing each other in an attempt to unsettle their opponents.
Calling the debate over what constitutes racism “crazy” and “long”, the 1999 Copa America champion added that there were no parallels between the “brutal cowardice” of police attacks on black people in the US and the incidents he had seen during his 27-year coaching career.
“Here in Brazil there are some situations,” the Palmeiras boss told Esportes.
“But I see situations that are totally unnecessarily treated as racism.
“A lot of prestige, a lot of morality is given to the way racism in football is treated. It is nothing more than nonsense, in my view.
“What the guy did [US police incidents of racist abuse] is pure racism. But in football, a guy plays with the other guy, makes fun of him to destabilize the guy. To say that that is an act of racism, I don’t know.
“This issue has come up a lot in the United States. It is a crazy discussion to reach consensus on.”
Supporters condemned the views expressed by the 68-year-old, who was forced to tell fans to stop making homophobic chants during one match of a season in which discrimination has been high on the agenda of football in Brazil.
“Supporter imitate monkeys, throw banana on the field and scream and offend black players, but this is all just nonsense,” said one, while another Luxemburgo’s views “terrible”, adding: “It is very easy for you to talk about such a business. Ask any of the black athletes you coach if they agree with you.”
In October, Marcão and Roger – the only black managers in Serie A – stood together on the touchline while wearing anti-racism t-shirts before a match between their two sides, promoting the work of national anti-discrimination campaigners.
Roger later spoke of the disproportionately small number of club managers in a country where more than half of the population is black and discussed the wider problems in a society where he said he had experienced “institutionalized prejudice.”
On the same day, CSKA Moscow winger Lucas Santos described the shooting of a 17-year-old in a barbershop near the iconic Maracana stadium as an example of Rio governer Wilson Witsel’s “genocidal spirit” against “black and poor” people.
At around the same time as Luxemburgo’s remarks were published, Russian model Ekaterina Dorozhko, who is the wife of one of the coach’s star players, Luiz Adriano, revealed that she had received abuse including death threats “because I am married to a black man.”