Former Brazil player Richarlyson says he is bisexual

Mauricio Savarese
Associated Press

Sao Paulo — Former Brazil and Sao Paulo midfielder Richarlyson said in a podcast on Friday that he is bisexual, a rare reveal in a country where macho culture in soccer is rife.

Richarlison of Brazil in action during the international friendly match between Japan and Brazil at National Stadium on June 6, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan.

He is the first player from a Brazilian top-flight team to say he's bisexual.

The 39-year-old Richarlyson played two matches for Brazil in 2008. He was part of the Sao Paulo squad that won the 2005 Club World Cup against Liverpool. The midifelder also won three national titles for the club. Ricky, as fans used to call him, was also in Atletico Mineiro's Copa Libertadores winning squad in 2013.

“All my life I was asked whether I was gay or not. I had relationships with men and I had relationships with women, too,” Richarlyson said in the podcast aired by website Globo Esporte. “I am normal, I have wishes and desire. I dated men, I date women. So what?

“So many people say it is important that I stand up, so I decided to say it today. I am bisexual.

The former footballer who was a pundit at TV Globo said he didn’t talk about his sexuality previously because he believed “the world is not ready to have this discussion and handle this naturally.”

The only similar public case in Brazil was a fourth division player in 2010; goalkeeper Messi, who played for Palmeira, a team from the inland city of Goianinha.

Richarlyson said he chose his career over revealing his sexuality.

“I am not saying this because I stopped playing. No," he said. "I never said it because it was not my priority. It wasn't today either, but now I felt comfortable to say it. I wish this was not a topic. I wanted to talk about my new career as a pundit,” he said.

Brazil's Sao Paulo midfielder Richarlyson, center, celebrate with teammates their gold medals after winning the FIFA Club World Championship Toyota Cup title in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Dec. 18, 2005. The former Brazil and Sao Paulo midfielder said in a podcast on Friday, June 24, 2022, that he is bisexual.

Neither Brazil nor Sao Paulo commented on the former player's interview.

But a rival of Richarlyson during his career, Sao Paulo-based Corinthians, celebrated his openness in the podcast.

Corinthians posted on Twitter: “Richarlyson was a great player, a great rival on the pitch and is a great sports professional. Now, after he says he is bisexual he remains all of that, and puts himself as an important voice of the resistance. We have the utmost respect.”