Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash last month has inspired Brazilian footballers to require a stand against homophobia.
Bryant was considered one among the best players in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and was also known within the LGBT+ community as a strong ally.
Before he retired he wore the No 24 shirt for the l. a. Lakers five – a variety that carries tons of stigma in Brazil for its association with gay men.
It comes from Jogo do Bicho (‘The animal game’), a well-liked and illegal lottery in Brazil travel by the mob. Each of the numbers up to 25 is represented by an animal, with the amount 24 being a deer. Deers have long been related to homosexuality in Brazilian culture and ‘veado’, the Portuguese word for deer, is additionally a homophobic slur.
Because of this the amount 24 a widespread joke within the country, eliciting ridicule and innuendoes. It’s the number that Brazilian football players don’t want to wear for fear of teasing and abuse.
Now, in Kobe Bryant’s name, the football magazine Corner started campaigns to finish the stigma and take back the amount 24. It began with the hashtag #PedeA24 – or invite 24 – with pictures of various club shirts bearing the amount.
The campaign picked up speed when it got the backing of several of Brazil’s best-known journalists, with one tweeting: “More than 700 professional players and nobody has the courage to wear a particular shirt.”
On Friday the primary division football club Bahia announced its players will wear the 24 shirts to point out there’s no shame.
“Football is often a channel to intensify the worst of our society, like racism, aggression, violence, and intolerance, but it also can be utilized in alternative ways, for culture, affection, sensibility and to enhance human relations,” Guilherme Bellintani, the president of the professional soccer club Esporte Clube Bahia, told Reuters.
“We think that clubs need to choose whether or not they are going to be channels for love or for hate. We choose love.”