Caio Ibelli Is Receiving Death Threats From Thousands Of Misinformed Gabriel Medina Fans
"The fact that people are giving Caio a hard time shows they don't know what they're talking about" - Kelly Slater
It's a well-known fact that Stab likes a flame war as much as anyone...
But we even get a little uncomfortable when people start threatening bodily harm, beatings, even murder, and from the chatter on the ground at Supertubes there is reason to believe we're living through one of the most radical displays of misdirected digital rage this year (in surfing, at least).
By now you've surely got a reasonable sense of the very real drama unfolding both on the ground in Peniche and all over the internet in the wake of Gabriel Medina's Round of 16 interference on fellow Brazilian Caio Ibelli.
But what you might not know is just how serious the response has been from Brazilian fans. Yesterday evening—after spending almost two hours doing everything short of head locking motherfuckers beneath the judge's tower at Supertubes—Gabs posted an Instagram post making his case to more than 8 million followers.
Heavily and somewhat confusingly edited, the video and caption clumsily walks the line between earnest self-defense and downright gaslighting, it is certainly not the whole story, as literally the entirety of the WSL's veteran officials will agree.
Almost immediately, Gab's close friend Neymar Jr. posted a story to his 127-million followers expressing his support for his countrymen, and sending Brazilians into a veritable social media tailspin.
Of course, you'd imagine the vitriol directed at the WSL, or their judges, instead it has landed firmly on poor Caio Ibelli. Since last night's post, Caio has received literally thousands and thousands of angry messages from both Gabby and Neymar's followers.
"I've been getting more than 10k messages in the last twelve hours," Caio tells Stab. "Mostly people talking shit about me, threatening, talking about my dignity like I did something wrong. Gabriel positioned himself very bad, and put his and Neymar's millions and millions of followers against me. I don't think that was cool."
Of course, the lion's share of people hammering Caio know two-fifths of fuck all about the ins and outs of priority rules or competitive surfing at all, a fact Kelly Slater—a man with a fairly granular understanding of how priority situations work in competition—was quick to acknowledge.
"Gabe should have looked at the disc," Kelly Slater tells Stab. "Anytime it's close you always look and confirm. The fact that people are giving Caio a hard time shows they don't know what they're talking about."
Caio has been quiet on social media, but was kind enough to get back to us despite him being in a rather uncomfortable position.
"It's a very delicate situation, I'm still waiting on the WSL to put out the whole review about keeping the result. I know the real reason why the result was kept, but the way Gabriel's team edited his version is very biased and solid in his favor. The real reason is not so much like that, but I'm waiting for real and concrete information to bring up the subject on my social media."
Sources within the WSL tell us they are preparing a response, and that they plan on releasing a detailed breakdown of the call, with multiple camera angles to back up the decision.
Now, of course whenever this publication is addressing Brazilian matters claims of racism are lobbed our way, so it's worth noting that our editorial relationship with Gabriel has thoroughly thawed over the last year. We'll be the first to tell you that outside of Brazil Gabby gets painted very unfairly, is unjustifiably seen as unlikeable, cocky, etc., all of which are opinions we do not share. But that doesn't mean we have to handle a situation like this with a velvet glove.
"Yeah, it's a bummer," Kelly says. "It's an emotional one for him. I get it. I wish he would just post that he messed up and doesn't agree but it was his fault for not looking."