Credit: Майоров Владимир, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Roberto Carlos

Football ambassador and former professional footballer,


The first professional football player to leave the pitch because of the racial slurs (2011)

Who is he and what does he do?

He has been described as the “most offensive-minded left-back in the history of the game”. A free kick specialist throughout his career, his bending shots have measured at over 105 miles per hour (169 km/h).

At club level, Roberto Carlos joined Real Madrid from Inter Milan in 1996 to spend 11 highly successful seasons, playing 584 matches in all competitions and scoring 71 goals. At Real, he won four La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League three times.

Roberto Carlos made his debut for the Brazil national team in 1992. He played in three World Cups, helping the team reach the final in 1998 in France, and win the 2002 tournament in Korea/Japan. With Brazil he is especially known for a bending 40-yard free kick against France in the inaugural match of Tournoi de France 1997.

His personal experience with discrimination and exclusion

Roberto Carlos is one of the greatest left-backs of all time and also one of the most fruitful foreigners in the history of Spanish football. Unfortunately, he is also one of the main victims of racist abuse, both in Spanish and Russian football.

Before long, he had endured contempt and not only at their eternal rival’s stadium; he assures that they spat at him in Logroño and he was insulted in Tenerife when he was about to take a corner kick. It was even so in his daily life: „I was walking with my wife and daughters in the centre of Madrid when a man stopped me to pick on me. It was very unpleasant.”

Another time they wrote the word “macaque” on his car and in the face of this hostile environment, he considered leaving Spanish football in 1997.

How he got rid of it

Samuel Eto’o threatened to leave the pitch in La Liga and Marc Zoro in Italian football; the Brazilian Roberto went one step further and became the first professional to carry it out and abandoned Krylya Sovetov’s grounds because they threw a banana at him. It was an unprecedented reaction: John Barnes had kicked it, Kameni dodged it, Dani Alves ate it and Roberto Carlos left.

He ended his career at Anzhí in Russia, where he encountered racism once again when they threw a banana at him from the terraces of the opposing team’s stadium, this time it was Krylia Sovetov Samara; in light of the repeated racist humiliation, he decided to abandon the pitch. When he had the ball, a banana landed at his feet. The left-back did not hesitate and chose to go to the locker room.

The perpetrator was a Zenit Saint Petersburg supporter. „Thank goodness Russian politicians have helped me find the person who did it; he came to apologise to me at my hotel but I wasn’t there,” Roberto Carlos recalls.

His inspiration for you

„He said it very clearly as it was reported by El País newspaper: “At the end of the season I will talk to the president and, if I’m annoying someone, I’ll leave.“

„I don’t want to make rash decisions, but I’m considering whether I wish to continue here or leave altogether. I’m certain there are people who love me, but there are others who are not very intelligent and are racist towards me.”


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