Brazilian Soccer Player's 'Gay' Kiss Angers Bigoted Fans

By: Brandon Voss

Brazil is the new Russia — at least where soccer is concerned.

Brazilian soccer star Emerson Sheik, who plays for the Corinthians, recently sent fans into a tizzy when he posted an Instagram photo of himself celebrating a victory by sharing a kiss with a male friend. "You’ve got to be very brave to celebrate friendship and not be scared of what prejudiced people will say," reads the caption, roughly translated. "You’ve got to be very free to celebrate a victory like this, openly, with a friend who is always there for you."

According to ABC News, antigay responses on Instagram were followed by protestors at the team's training site carrying banners with clever slogans like "Go and kiss a woman!" and "We don't accept homosexuals here!"

Sheik was with his girlfriend when the photo was taken, and Izac Azar, the man kissing Sheik and head chef of the restaurant where they were celebrating, is a married father-to-be. Even so, Sheik was forced to apologize for the innocent kiss. "We posted the photo because of our friendship, the affection and respect, to break this machismo, this prejudice,” Sheik said. “I'm sorry. I had no intention of offending or hurting any Corinthians supporter.”

His kissing partner was less apologetic. “I’m married. And Sheik was with his girlfriend," Azar is quoted as saying. "We wanted to show that you don’t have to be gay to fight against homophobia."