Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomesportHamilton 'incredibly proud' of Vinicius after Socrates Award

Hamilton 'incredibly proud' of Vinicius after Socrates Award

SAO PAULO: Lewis Hamilton said he felt “incredibly proud” to see Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior receive this year’s Socrates Award at the Ballon d’Or ceremony and vowed to continue speaking out against racism.

Brazilian Vinicius, who has been racially abused in LaLiga games in the last two seasons, was recognised for starting a foundation that is building schools in impoverished areas and investing in education in his home country.

“It’s really remarkable to see people out there who are facing such challenges and are just being brave in the face of it,” Hamilton told Reuters on Wednesday in an interview ahead of this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The 38-year-old Briton, the sport’s only Black driver, had previously showed support for Vinicius when he received racial slurs from fans in a game at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium this year, calling the episode “devastating”.

Knighted by his own country, Hamilton was also granted honorary Brazilian citizenship last year and met the 23-year-old forward at this year’s Italian Grand Prix.

“It was a real honour to meet him, he brought such great energy to the team,” said the Mercedes driver, known for his social activism including his defense of minority groups and environmental causes.

Vinicius, the only Brazilian in the top 10 in the nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or, said he would remain strong in the fight against racism as he accepted the Socrates Award from the Prince of Monaco on Monday.

The Vini Jr. Institute, created in 2020, aims to use the popularity of soccer to help innovations in teaching and learning in Brazilian public schools.

It hopes up to 15 schools and 10,000 students will benefit by the end of 2023.

Hamilton praised the soccer star for leading by example.

“I’m so grateful that he’s been acknowledged and well received,” the Briton said.

“And to win that reward not only for being a great athlete but for being a great spokesperson for people and for the culture, I think it is very honourable.”

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