UPDATE July 2, 2020: In a statement provided to Tatame and translated from Portuguese, Ricardo de la Riva’s lawyer Ana Beatriz Mountary Pimenta called the WhatsApp message a “misunderstanding:
“In fact, this was a huge misunderstanding in which the student rushed to make statements that do not fit the truth. Escola De La Riva would never invite any of its athletes to withdraw from the team, except, of course, just causes not consistent with fair play, good conduct and other issues that hurt the sport as a whole.
In fact, the De La Riva School is undergoing a huge restructuring, which was already underway before the pandemic and which had to be streamlined by the new protocols for opening and resuming activities. Such restructuring aims to modify schedules, didactics and teachers for children’s and women’s classes. The intention is to improve the classes that were already taking place.
The School, in fact, and contrary to what is being said, is creating a welcoming space and focused 100% on the empowerment, protagonism and valorization of women on the mat. And, because of that, he is looking for the best professionals in the area to teach Jiu-Jitsu classes to female classes, modifying schedules to make them more accessible.
The aim is to further encourage the female audience to learn about the sport and to be part of the team, adding knowledge and experiences, in a safe and respectful environment.
The posting and any mention other than that do not proceed. These are untruths that go against all unity, ethics and equality that has always been cherished and practiced on the mattresses of De La Riva.
It is a message exchanged between two people in the school’s administrative area, but it does not represent the position of the school. The message was being analyzed by the technical and legal staff and was leaked. It is important to note that the message was never approved! In fact, it was promptly rejected by Mestre De La Riva. We reiterate that mixed classes are not prohibited. And, what is new in the formatting of the school and its classes, is nothing but projects that aim at the improvement of all students.”
A screenshot of a message from BJJ black belt Sabrina Savi showed her response to the statement, which has been translated from the original Portuguese:
“4 days after the Zoom and WhatsApp message, no explanation was given to us, although we asked for explanations. We understand with issue that ‘whoever is silent has already said everything he had to say’ and that that was the will of whoever signed the message. The news spread, and that would perhaps happen even more slowly, if [Meggy] remained silent. Until now, [there was] no explanation or apology for the ‘supposed’ misunderstanding.”
A video posted by Gomes echoed Savi’s statements about a lack of clarification, with Gomes also saying that four days had passed before the students had received any kind of further communication about the information conveyed in the message.
June 30, 2020: Ricardo de la Riva’s main academy will no longer offer mixed-gender classes and currently does not offer female-only classes, according to a message sent to students from the academy’s WhatsApp.
The information was first shared by BJJ blue belt and now-former De la Riva student Meggy Gomes, who spoke out about the “expulsion” of women from the academy that she says was first discussed in a Zoom call with students of the academy. Upon being contacted by the Jiu-Jitsu Times, Gomes shared a screenshot of the message from a number that matches the WhatsApp number listed on the De la Riva website. She has since shared the message publicly on her Instagram page.
As was already communicated through Zoom at the meeting on 06/26, we inform that there will be no mixed classes (jiu-jitsu and no-gi). There is a possibility that exclusively female classes will be opened in the future. If you have funds to receive, please contact us through this phone as of 06/29 for the settlement to be made.
Ricardo de la Riva Goded.”
The Jiu-Jitsu Times has contacted Ricardo de la Riva about the situation and has not received a response.
Although there are multiple female jiu-jitsu classes listed on the De la Riva academy’s schedule on Instagram, Gomes told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that “there were no women” who came to train because the academy planned to charge an extra fee in addition to the existing monthly membership.
The news comes just under three months after decorated BJJ athlete Claudia do Val accused De la Riva of initiating an unwanted sexual encounter during the time that he was her coach. De la Riva subsequently issued a statement on social media that called the accusation “irresponsible and false.”
Do Val herself has shared Gomes’ post on her Instagram story and shared her own statement speaking out against sexism.
“Women have always fought for respect, for basic human rights and acknowledgement! Society has much to improve in that regard but we’re way past the time when you could disrespect us and keep our mouths shut! We have a voice now and we’re always going to fight for what’s right!!
On a side note, sexism is bad all the time, not only when it’s convenient for you.”
The Jiu-Jitsu Times will provide updates on this story as they become available.