The Brazilian team breaks the taboo related to the number associated with homosexuality in Qatar 2022

Almost a century after its first match in a World Cup, the Brazilian team will have a number 24 in its ranks, putting an end to an absurd homophobic taboo that associates this number with homosexuality.

The hatred for this number derives from the “Jogo do bicho”, a sort of lottery invented in 1892 in a zoo – with the aim of increasing its income – through which figures of 25 animals are distributed and a winner is chosen every day random.

This practice, supported by the Brazilian mafias and widespread on the streets, where it is still popular, was banned only three years later, but associated the ’24’ with homosexuality.

How come? Because 24 in this lottery corresponds to the deer or deer, which in Brazilian translates as “veado” and sounds like “viado”, an expression used in the country to refer to homosexuals in a derogatory way.

It may seem like a ridiculous ratio, whose stay in the club 100 years later is absurd, but one need only dig into Brasileirao to see that players and managers take that number into account very much in the organization.

Of the more than 600 players in the Brazilian first division, only three wear the number ’24’ and none are undisputed regulars for their club. In fact, they are all reserves or very young players. This was the ploy of the Brazilian clubs to avoid controversy. If they couldn’t hide the presence of the ’24’, they gave it to players who found it nearly impossible to show it off in public.

This scandal is not just about the national league. Brazil had always dodged the ’24’ controversy in major competitions due to squad restrictions of 23 players, but the pandemic has widened the lists. In the last Copa América, the quota was 28 footballers and Brazil were the only team in the event that decided there would not be 24 in the Tite list.

For this World Cup, held in a country where homosexuality is a crime, Gleison Bremer has chosen the number ’24’, closing a debate that has been going on for decades and decades and one more reason for the politicization of a team that has experienced this World Cup in a climate of polarization from the elections in Brazil and the public support of football players like Neymar and Raphinha for Jair Bolsonaro, declared homophobic.

This led to part of the country rejoicing over Neymar’s injury in the first match against Serbia and people wishing him the worst for being one of the public figures who voted for Bolsonaro.

“I don’t understand that a boy with such a big heart can wish him something bad,” said Casemiro a few days ago.

Only Richarlison, a Tottenham Hotspur footballer, was able to speak out in favor of the rights of the LGBT community.

“Football is becoming more inclusive, and it needs to be even more. The world has changed a lot. We can’t go on living like we did 100 years ago,” said the striker when he was still an Everton player.

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