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Former footballer Raí makes Lula gesture at Ballon d’Or ceremony

Retired World Cup-winning Brazilian footballer Raí made an “L” gesture while presenting an award at today’s prestigious Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris. The hand gesture is a well-known campaign symbol of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the frontrunner in this month’s election.

Raí was presenting the first edition of the “Socrates Prize,” awarded to footballers committed to social causes. The trophy is in honor of Raí’s later older brother Sócrates, who played for Brazil at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. Bayern Munich’s Senegalese forward Sadio Mané was the award’s inaugural winner.

“We will have an important decision in our country in a few days. We know very well which side [Sócrates] would have chosen,” said Raí. “We will all be supporting him [Lula]. This is important not only for Brazil, but also for the world,” he added, before making the famous “L” gesture.

Shortly after the video went viral, Lula used his Twitter to thank Raí, saying he was watching the ceremony.

Sócrates, who died in 2011, is among the most famous footballers in Brazil’s history, both for his on-field prowess and his political activism. He was one of the leading minds behind the Corinthians Democracy movement, which represented a visible public opposition to Brazil’s military dictatorship at the São Paulo-based club of the same name — of which Lula is a die-hard supporter.

He was also among the leading celebrity voices of the Direct now free elections movement in 1984, which symbolized the beginning of the end for the dictatorship.

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