Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr has repeated his call for action against racism after he was racially abused by Valencia fans during a La Liga match on Sunday. The Brazilian was also sent off for violent conduct in the 1-0 defeat at Mestalla.
Vinicius Jr said he heard racist chants from the stands several times during the game and tried to point them out to the referee, who stopped the match for 10 minutes in the 70th minute. The 22-year-old also got into a scuffle with Valencia’s Hugo Duro in stoppage time and received a red card.
After the game, Vinicius Jr posted a message on Instagram, saying that “racism is normal in La Liga” and that Spain is “known as a country of racists” in Brazil. He also said that he was “strong” and would “go to the end against racists”.
“The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi today belongs to the racists,” Vinicius said according to a translation from Al Jazeera. “A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love but which accepted to export to the world the image of a racist country. I am sorry for those Spaniards who disagree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists.”
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti also condemned the incident, saying that it was “unacceptable” and that “racism has no place in football or in society”. He said he told the referee that he should have stopped the match earlier.
“What we saw today is unacceptable – an entire stadium chanting racist slurs,” Ancelotti said on social media.
Real Madrid filed a hate crime complaint over the abuse against its star on Monday, ESPN reported.
This was not the first time that Vinicius Jr was targeted by racist abuse this season. In January, four people were arrested for hanging an effigy of him from a bridge in Madrid before the derby against Atletico Madrid.
La Liga said it would investigate the incident and take “appropriate legal action” if any hate crime was identified. It also urged anyone with relevant footage to submit it.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas also criticized Vinicius Jr for his comments, saying that he was “misinformed” and “manipulated” about what the league can do about racism. He said that Vinicius Jr had missed two meetings with him to discuss the issue.
“Before you criticize and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly @Vinijr,” Tebas tweeted.
Vinicius Jr responded by saying that Tebas was “just as bad as the racists” and that he wanted “actions and punishments” instead of meetings.
Vinicius Jr has been one of Real Madrid’s best players this season, scoring 11 goals and providing 10 assists in all competitions. He is also a regular for Brazil’s national team and is expected to feature in next year’s World Cup.
His case has drawn support from other players and pundits around the world, including Manchester United stars Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, who sent him messages of solidarity on social media.
“You are not alone brother,” Pogba wrote on Instagram.
“We stand with you @vinijr,” Rashford tweeted.
Former England players Rio Ferdinand and Ian Wright also condemned the abuse and called for more action from La Liga and UEFA.
“This is disgusting… @vinijr deserves better than this! Racism has no place in football or society! @LaLigaEN @UEFA need to do more!” Ferdinand tweeted.
However, some Spanish media outlets have been accused of downplaying or ignoring the incident. According to Optuplus’ The Wrap, a daily newsletter covering Spanish football news, only one of the four major sports newspapers in Spain – AS – featured Vinicius Jr’s case on their front page on Monday. The other three – Marca, Mundo Deportivo and Sport – focused on other topics such as Barcelona’s win over Granada or Atletico Madrid’s draw with Sevilla.
The Wrap also claimed that some TV shows did not give enough attention or sympathy to Vinicius Jr’s plight. For example, El Chiringuito de Jugones – a popular late-night show – spent more time discussing whether Vinicius Jr deserved his red card than his racial abuse. One of its panelists – Pedro Bravo – even compared Vinicius Jr’s goal celebrations to “playing the monkey”, sparking outrage on social media. Bravo later apologized and said he used a wrong metaphor.
The Wrap concluded that Spanish football needs to do more than just condemn racism verbally. It called for concrete actions such as identifying and banning perpetrators, educating fans and players, supporting victims and raising awareness through campaigns and initiatives.