Real Madrid defender Pepe has claimed Portuguese figures such as him and teammate Cristiano Ronaldo are discriminated against.
The defender, who has been at the centre of various controversial incidents in the past, spoke to the Portuguese publication Record, beginning by looking back at the ten match ban he received for violent conduct in a game against Getafe during the 2008-09 season.
“I was forever branded in Spain and worldwide,” stated the Brazilian born centre-back. “Still today I am called a murderer.”
Pepe then discussed the rumours surrounding Ronaldo and Coach Jose Mourinho’s departures, alighting on the topic of discrimination.
“If Mourinho or Cristiano decide to leave that is their choice. I will not take the same option simply because they leave. I’ll take my decision at the right time. Porto are a club I’d like to go back to, I learned a lot as a player there.
“I would love Cristiano to win the Golden Ball, because I am his friend and for what he has done in football, having been in the top three five times in the last six years, winning the League. But it seems he’s not going to be the winner.
“Cristiano is treated differently by the Press and even some fans. Mourinho’s team is attacked because he is Portuguese. Whatever we do on the field is interpreted differently, and when things relate to Barcelona it reaches an even higher dimension, because Barca have a good structure to get everything going.
“Persecuted? Yes we are. We are strangers, and it shows up in the preferences of the media. If they had to choose between a Portuguese and a Spaniard they wouldn’t need to think twice.”
The 29-year-old was speaking after receiving the Artur Agostinho award as Portugal’s person of the year.
“I am delighted to have received this award and thank the people who believe in me.”