Brazil boss Dunga has caused controversy in his homeland with some seemingly racist remarks in his side’s pre-match press conference ahead of the Copa America quarter-final against Paraguay on Saturday.
The former World Cup-winning midfielder was referring to the constant criticism he receives from some sections of the media and the public when he compared the “beating” to which he is subjected to the punishment handed out to Brazilians of African descent.
“I have taken so much beating that I even sometimes think I am of African descent,” Dunga said. “They look at me and say: ‘let’s beat him over there’. Without notion, without anything, they say ‘I don’t like him’ and they start beating me.”
Dunga’s crass comparison caused a backlash on social media, and the head coach later apologised via a statement on the Brazilian Football Confederation’s website.
“I apologise to everyone who might feel offended by my statement about people of African descent,” a translation of Dunga’s response read.
“The way I expressed it does not reflect my feelings and opinions.”
The 51-year-old, in his second spell in charge of the national team, went on to explain the demands of training Brazil at the highest level.
“Here in the national team there is only one option and that’s to win,” he said. “That’s the price you pay. But it’s a joy and an honour to defend this country.”
Dunga’s side face Paraguay in the last eight of the Copa in Concepcion on Saturday, but will be without Neymar after the Barcelona forward was suspended for four games following his red card and insults to the referee in the group game against Colombia.
“That’s a closed chapter and we have to focus on Paraguay,” he said.
But he added, in reference to the controversial incident involving Gonzalo Jara that led to the dismissal of Edinson Cavani in Chile’s win over Uruguay on Wednesday: “Conmebol were strict with Neymar. Let’s hope they are just as strict with everyone else.”