Explained: Why Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias paints his nails
If you are a fan of Spanish football or have been watching the Europa League, you may have noticed that Real Betis forward Borja Iglesias sports an unusual, brightly coloured addition to his hands.
It's not jewellery, which isn't permitted, and it's not a pair of gloves, which are common sights in the winter. It's not even a bandage - as sported by Karim Benzema - but decorative paint on his nails.
You may be wondering why the Betis star paints his nails, but now you can wonder no more. GOAL has everything you need to know.
Why does Borja Iglesias paint his nails?
Borja Iglesias paints his nails in order to raise awareness for issues that he believes are important.
He initially painted his nails black in 2020 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and he subsequently decided to continue painting them to protest against homophobia.
"I first did that when the Black Lives Matter protests began,” the striker explained ahead of Betis' Europa League last-16 clash with Manchester United in March 2023. "I painted them black to make myself conscious.
"We have normalised certain comments that shouldn’t be normal; that was a way of having it present so that if things were said, I would think, act: 'No, we have to correct this.'
"Later I changed colours; the message applied against homophobia too, and now I like it."
🖤🤍💚— Real Betis Balompié (@RealBetis_en) June 4, 2020
Borja Iglesias painted his nails black to raise awareness in the fight against racism and homophobia. And he was abused on social media for it.
The fight against this scourge can be expressed in many ways. The key is to make it visible.
You're great, @BorjaIglesias9. pic.twitter.com/rfP3CSGtoI
When Iglesias first began to wear paint on his nails, it prompted a confused - sometimes hostile - reaction from some supporters, but he has articulated his reasons clearly and without controversy, persisting with the gesture for a number of seasons.
His fearlessness in standing against homophobia has been praised, with 'Paquita Salas' actor Brays Efe notably lauding the footballer's unequivocal act of solidarity.
"[Iglesias] can't imagine how important it is for me to hear a person who plays soccer say that it doesn't matter if you paint your nails," Efe told Sport. "I think it's so important and so cool that he did that."
The Spain international is pleased to have a positive impact and intends to continue highlighting issues, believing that the sport of football is moving towards much more inclusive surroundings.
"In women’s football it’s totally normal [to be openly gay]," said Iglesias. "I think that is the direction we are moving in. We have a new generation coming through with a much more open mentality."