Real Madrid and Brazilian superstar Vinicius Junior has taken home the 2023 Socrates Award at the Ballon D’or ceremony for tackling social issues.
The prize acknowledges footballers for their humanitarian work and Sadio Mane won in 2022.
In 2021, Vinicius set up the Instituto Vini Jr – an organization that aims to use technology and sports to educate young Brazilians and to help make Brazil a more equal place. He has invested $4 million into the project.
But Vinicius has been a victim of racism since his time at Real Madrid and Didier Drogba who called the award wanted him to talk about it.
Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Drogba told Vinicius: “Thank you for what you are doing for the less fortunate kids. It makes me really, really proud.
“But I want to talk about something that makes me prouder. It’s your fight against racism.
“You have experienced it way too many times as a player and I would like you to use the Ballon d’Or ceremony as a platform to send a strong message to the world, please.”
Speaking in Portuguese, Vinicius then said: “I will remain strong in the fight against racism. It is a very sad thing to talk about racism nowadays, but we have to continue in the fight so that people suffer less.
I am very happy to receive this award and to help many children in Brazil. I had little chance of getting where I have come from where I came, so it is a pleasure for me to help as many kids as I can so they can have a chance.”
He added: “It is important to be together and fight racism. I would like to thank all the great players here who help us to fight.”
The speech was greeted with loud applause before Drogba added: “Vinicius, you are not alone in this fight.
“It has been going on for too long, way too long, and I would like to urge football authorities and governments to act.
“It is time for real actions to eradicate racism, not only in stadiums but everywhere in the world.”