|Rafaela Silva laments her disqualification from the Olympics|
Judo wrestler apologizes to Judo Confederation and says that at the moment she was a little “hot-headed”.
With all of the recent controversy involving issues that really had nothing to do with actual Olympic sports (Gabby Douglas’ hair, US hurdlers Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells feeling slighted by the press that seemed to favor teammate Lolo Jones), but seemed to have slight racial/color-coded connotations, there was another non-sport incident in the Olympics that didn’t seem to garner as much press. I would assume that this was due to the fact that the athlete in question wasn’t an American. This story is actually old news to Brazilians, but I thought it was note-worthy anyway.
Brazilian judo wrestler Rafael Silva was disqualified on the morning of Monday, August 6thin her Olympic match against Hedvig Karakas of Hungary in the quarter-final of the 57kg weight category in the 2012 London Games. The referees decided that Rafaela, who had actually won the match, applied a blow that is no longer allowed under the new rules of judo.
|Silva and opponent Hedvig Karakas of Hungary|
Rafaela had started the fight with a lot of aggression. She had done so well that she managed a wazari, which is when an opponent falls on their back and is immobilized for 20-25 seconds. However, shortly before the end of the fight, the judges decided that Rafaela had attacked her opponent’s legs, which, according to the new rules of judo, it is not allowed. With this, Rafaela was disqualified from the London Olympics.
As if the frustration of being disqualified from the Olympics wasn’t enough, Rafael Silva became involved in a discussion on Twitter with an Internet user who posted derogatory comments about her. Rafaela was a victim of racism and the Globo TV network had access to the comments sent to her via Twitter saying that “the place of a monkey is in a cage (lugar de macaca é na jaula)” and that “You are not better than anyone because you are BLACK (Vc não é melhor do que ninguém porque você é NEGRA).”
Cell phone image of Twitter message:
“You are not better than anyone because you are BLACK (Vc não é melhor do que ninguém porque você é NEGRA).”
“You are not better than anyone because you are BLACK (Vc não é melhor do que ninguém porque você é NEGRA).”
Already having lost to her opponent, the Brazilian athlete didn’t mince words and responded with her own choice words in the social network.
“Go fuck yourself, son of a bitch … I lost, yes, I’m human like everyone else. I was wrong and I know I have the ability to qualify and win a seat in 2016,” Rafaela said: “You have nothing to do and sit there talking shit. You have ability, earn a spot in the Olympics and then we’ll talk.”
Later Rafaela sought the direction of the Brazilian Judo Confederation (CBJ) to apologize. The technical director Ney Wilson had a frank conversation with her. The athlete will not be punished. She is sorry and said that she opened the internet and saw the provocations of which she had been a target. Still in the heat of the fight that had just ended, she ended up responding.
“I should have ignored it, but I was hotheaded. I want to apologize to everyone”, she said.
Ney Wilson spoke with judo athlete and explained that she’s still very young, has a commitment to sponsors and getting involved with this kind of controversy can only hurt her.
“She received 800 compliments. She can’t be bothered with a single critique. She was wrong and was the first to recognize this. We don’t see this as a lack of discipline, but as an outburst that should not have happened.”
The direction of the CBJ had recommended to its athletes to avoid social networks in order not to lose concentration and focus in fights.
Criticism and teasing
In the Twitter post that angered Rafaela, the text said that the judo wrestler spent “years preparing yourself to be eliminated for such stupidity” and deserved “swim back from there.” The internet user continued criticizing Rafaela, who responded with more comebacks. Since then, the account of the athlete can only be read with your permission.
“Asshole, son of a bitch…go look for things rather than be jealous of others and talking shit. Go wash the dishes washer, since you have nothing to do.”
The judoka also replied to another criticism, questioning the money spent by Brazil in its preparation. Developed in one of the nuclei of the Institute Reação by the former judo wrestler Flávio Canto and expert Gerard Bernardes, the girl from the Rio neighborhood of Cidade de Deus, just 20 years old, is the third in world rankings and promises to come back even stronger in Rio in 2016.
“At least Brazil spends money on me and I know that I am much more useful than you. I have a gold medal in the World Games of 2008 and a silver from 2011, and you?”, she wrote back to criticism.
Rafaela competed on the third day of competition of judo. Brazil had won two medals, both in the 48 kilo (105.8 lb) category, the first day. Sarah Menezes took an unprecedented gold medal among women, and Felipe Kitadai got the bronze in the men’s competition.
Minister tells PF to investigate racism in Rafaela Twitter incident
COB (Comitê Olímpico Brasileiro – Brazilian Olympic Committee) releases a statement repudiating the attacks and said that wrestler doesn’t want to pursue the case.
LONDON – From the untimely responses to comments received by an aggressive Twitter user after being eliminated from the judo competition of the London Games, Rafaela Silva made a point of apologizing. But some of the comments still hurt her quite a bit, to the point that she could not hold back the tears on Tuesday morning in the Excel Centre, where he watched the fights of compatriots Mariana Silva and Leandro Guilheiro.
Racism through Twitter will become a police matter. The Sports Minister, Aldo Rebelo said he would turn the case over to the Federal Police to investigate the case.
“Racism is a matter of law. It is an indignity where it was not only the athlete that was disrespected. It is disrespectful to the Brazilian people. The PF will enter the case because we are talking about a human being in addition to representing her country receives an athletic scholarship”, said Aldo, who knew of the case through the Globo TV network.
The minister said that he was with her on the Monday after her elimination and tried to console the athlete, who he considers to have a huge potential for competing for medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Rafaela is a very young girl. I have enormous affection for her. Not to mention that she is an example of effort and dedication in which she was able to overcome adversities in life. After the fight I hugged her and comforted her. I reinforced the confidence that we have in her talent.”
He said that government will continue to support her with an athletic scholarship.
Brazilian Olympic Committee released a statement saying that Rafaela did not want to proceed with the case
The Brazilian Olympic Committee issued a statement repudiating the incident and stating that the athlete didn’t wish to pursue the case.
“The Brazilian Mission in London, providing legal aid to athletes consulted the legal department of the COB on the legal measures that can be taken. However, Rafaela Silva herself does not want to proceed with the case,” said the note from the COB.
The national secretary of the Ministry of High Performance Sports, Ricardo Leyser, said that the minister Aldo noted the intention of Rafaela not to pursue the case.
“We requested guidance from the General Counsel of the Ministry of Sport. We want to see if we can not or cannot request an investigation into the case, since the athlete desisted”, Leyser said.
Earlier, the head of the judo team and technical director of the Brazilian Judo Confederation (CBJ), Ney Wilson had said that the CBJ would study ways of making the insults go unpunished.
“We have already sent the case to the Head of Delegation of the COB, and regardless of what they are doing, we will ask that the case be investigated”, Ney said.
Soccer superstar Neymar, also participating in the London Games, sympathized with the Brazilian wrestler, sending messages via Twitter:
“I know how you feel! Now is the time for you to stand at the side of those that truly love you and train hard to realize your dream in Rio in 2016,” wrote the star.
The wrestler initially admitted to the Globo network that she didn’t want the case to be investigated.
“I would not like to be like this. Racism has never happened to me. I didn’t even know what to say. At the time, I just turned off the computer. They said these things and that my family wouldn’t be proud of me. That’s what hurt me the most”, she said.
Geraldo Bernardes, Rafaela’s trainer who together with FlávioCanto coordinates the nuclei of Instituto Reação in poor communities of Rio, like as Rocinha, Tubiacanga and the neighborhood made famous by the film of the same name, Cidade de Deus, said there were never any cases of racism involving their athletes.
“The nucleus is where she came up within an upper middle class gym, in Jacarepaguá, and everybody trains together, be they rich or poor….there is no distinction of race, color, anything. I think the turned page has to be what happened in the fight, for a normal judo blow that the rules don’t allow. But this issue of racism can’t go unpunished. Where does it end?”
CBJ will ask for moderation in the use of social networks
The racist abuse against Rafaela came from a user nicknamed “Urubu Palheta” (Buzzard Picks). She referred them to Rosicleia, the Brazilian women’s coach who supported the athletes after the defeat of the welterweight (63kg up) Mariana Silva to China’s Xu Lili, in the first fight.
“I’m not justifying the attitude of Rafaela, but explaining what happened. You come from a painful defeat in which even the referees had given the wazari (judo move) in her favor, open the computer to find some comfort from friends and family and are hit with an offense of this level? They called her a monkey that had to go to a cage. What country is this where the skin color justifies such an act? An animal is who does this. This indeed is one that should go to the cage (jail)”, Rosicleia said. “I don’t think anyone is prepared to face such an assault, even more so a girl so young and in a hotheaded situation. The best advice would be to stay away from social media, although we know it’s the fastest way to communicate with people we like. It was infantile, but human to react.”
Rosicleia, however, admitted that advice, from now on, is for athletes to avoid the social networks as much as possible. The CBJ itself had requested before the Games, to maintain concentration in preparation, that athletes avoid using social networks for a while.
“After the door opened, we tried to padlock it. Social networks are very dangerous and I never thought that something so low could happen against one of our athletes.”