Atletico Madrid captain Koke has said Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior can expect “trouble” in Sunday’s derby if he performs his trademark dancing celebration after scoring.
The Brazil international has attracted criticism from rival fans and players for instances of showboating and his dance moves when celebrating, which some consider to be a provocation.
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Asked if he would understand the reaction of Atletico fans at the Wanda Metropolitano if Vinicius celebrated in his usual way, Koke said: “There would be trouble, for sure, [that is] to be expected.”
But Koke said Vinicius, like any other player, was free to celebrate goals how he wanted to.
“If in the end he scores and decides to dance, well, it’s what he wants to do,” Koke said.
“Would I understand it or not? Everyone has their own way of being and of celebrating goals as they please.”
Both Pele and the Brazil Football Federation came out in defense of Vinicius, and were critical of commentary made by a player agent on a popular Spanish football show.
The agent later apologized for his comments, which both Pele and the federation said they considered racist.
“Football is joy. It is dancing. It is truly a party. Despite the fact that racism still exists, we will not allow it to stop us from continuing to smile,” Pele wrote. “And we will continue to fight racism in this way, fighting for the right to be happy.”
The Brazil federation also used the hashtag #DanceViniJr. and wrote: “There will be dancing, dribbling, but above all, respect. On Thursday night (15), our athlete @vinijr was the target of racist statements. The CBF stands in solidarity and supports: #BailaViniJr.”
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said he does not understand the controversy surrounding Vinicius’ goal celebration.
“He is a Brazilian, he dances very well, and I don’t think it bothers anyone,” Ancelotti said.
“He doesn’t need to change anything regarding his attitude because he respects his rivals and the referee a lot.
“He is a special player because of how he plays, although at times, because of his way of playing, rivals might get angry.”
Barcelona boss Xavi was asked about Vinicius’ dancing at a news conference on Friday and said players could celebrate however they liked as long as they did not “show disrespect.”
“Each person celebrates things how they want to,” Xavi said.
“When you score a goal… you’re euphoric and for each person it comes out how it comes out.
“For me, it always came out as celebrating with my teammates, because I understood football was a collective game, a team game, and if I scored it was thanks to my teammates.
“The first thing that occurred to me was to go and hug the first teammate I found — maybe through being cautious, being timid.
“Each person should celebrate how they want but without showing disrespect.”
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, meanwhile, has encouraged his national teammate Vinicius to continue dancing after scoring.
Sempre! 🕺🏾😂 https://t.co/VjjN9MtwwV pic.twitter.com/B4K08fLs10
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) September 16, 2022
Neymar, who was left angry after he was booked for his goal celebration in PSG’s 3-1 win at Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League, tweeted: “DANCE VINI Jr.”
The Brazil star had further words of advice for Vinicius, writing in an Instagram post “Dribble, dance and be you. Happy just the way you are. Keep it up my boy, next goal we dance.”
Vinicius responded to Neymar’s comments on Twitter with the word “Always” and a picture of the pair dancing when playing for Brazil.
Atletico head into Sunday’s league showdown five points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid after five games played.