Brazilian soccer megastar Ronaldinho met in Chechnya this week with the Russian republic’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is widely believed to be purging gay men from the country.
Ronaldinho posted photos on his Twitter (15 million followers) and Instagram (24 million followers) pages celebrating the visit with Kadyrov and other Chechen officials. “Very well received by everyone here in Grozny. Too special, come from so far and receive love! Thanks for everything.”
“Bad move @ronaldinho - what were you thinking? Loved you as a player and have enjoyed following you on instagram this is disappointing.” read one of the many comments condemning the soccer player for consorting with a man suspected of kidnapping, torturing and killing gay men.
Journalist Karim Zidan, who writes for Outsports’ sister site Bloody Elbow and other publications, also took Ronaldinho to task. Zidan also wrote a great piece for Deadspin showing how Kadyrov uses sport to further his grip on the republic.
Ronaldinho is bragging about meeting Kadyrov & receiving "so much affection." Also met "Lord" who was personally implicated in the gay purge pic.twitter.com/KAitD7vg5l— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) July 17, 2017
While Kadyrov denies gays are being purged, there is a preponderance of evidence from journalists and gay men who have escaped to show the allegations are true. And the Chechen leader has admitted gay men should be purged, while at the same time denying they exist in Chechnya.
“This is nonsense,” Kadyrov told HBO when asked about the allegations. “We don't have those kinds of people here. We don't have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”
“Praise be to god,” the Chechen leader adds. “Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”
It’s disgusting that Ronaldinho went to Chechnya in the first place and even worse to have met with and posed for photos with Kadyrov, a tyrant who has blood on his hands.