Spanish football is once again involved in a debate on racism after another case of abuse against Real Madrid striker Vinícius Júnior.
The president of the Spanish soccer federation acknowledged that the country has a racism problem and the player’s club called on authorities to investigate the latest incident as a hate crime.
Managers, players and former players expressed their solidarity with Vinícius, who on Sunday considered leaving the field after facing racist taunts from fans during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss to Valencia in the Spanish league.
“We have a problem of conduct, education, racism”, said the president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, on Monday. “And as long as there is a fan or a group of fans insulting someone based on sexual orientation, skin color or beliefs, then we have a serious problem. A serious problem that stains an entire team, an entire hobby and an entire country”.
Valencia said it banned one of its fans for life and was seeking to identify other people who may have insulted Vinícius at the Mestalla Stadium.
“From the moment the unfortunate events occurred, the club has analyzed all the available images, working with the authorities as quickly as possible to clarify what happened in order to act quickly and forcefully,” Valencia said in a statement, adding. is working with the police to identify more culprits.
Real Madrid pdirected authorities to investigate abusive behavior saying the club believed the incident was a hate crime.
Real Madrid strongly condemns the events that occurred yesterday (Sunday) against our player. “These events represent a direct attack on the social and democratic model of coexistence of our State based on the rule of law.”
The Spanish league has filed nine similar formal complaints for racist abuse against Vinícius in the last two seasons, but most cases have been shelved by prosecutors. Another complaint was expected to be made after an investigation into what happened in Valencia was completed.
Fans have been fined and thrown out of stadiums for their abuses, but so far only one Mallorca fan can end up on trial for allegedly racially insulting the Brazilian during a match. The first trial against a fan accused of racial abuse in Spanish professional football is expected to take place sometime this year in a case involving Athletic Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams, who was insulted by an Espanyol supporter in a match. in 2020.
“I’m curious to see what happens”said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who on Sunday considered removing Vinícius from the match after he was insulted. “Nothing is going to happen, because this has already been done several times in other stadiums and nothing has been done. Nothing. We have to evaluate this situation, because it is very serious.”
Barcelona manager Xavi said people need to be educated and punished, and called for tougher action by soccer officials in cases of racism during matches.
“It’s time to end this,” Xavi said. “If there is an insult, get out, we stop playing, it’s over. I think that is the message to the president of the league and the federation. We have to stop this. It’s the right time.
Vinícius, who is black and has been subjected to repeated racist insults since he arrived from Brazil five years ago, He said after the match that the Spanish league “now belongs to racists” and that Spain “is seen as a racist country.”
Spanish government and soccer officials condemned the insults against Vinícius, but were quick to point out that they disagreed with the player’s generalization that Spain or its people are racist.
In the world of football, Vinícius received almost unconditional support.
“Total solidarity with Vinicius,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. “There is no place for racism in football or in society and FIFA supports all players who have found themselves in such a situation. The events during the match between Valencia and Real Madrid show that this is how it should be”.
Vinícius is not the only player in Spain, or in European football, to face racist abuse. But the Brazilian has been the focus of much of the hate in recent years, particularly this season after he began dancing at his goal celebrations. In January, an effigy of the player was hung from a Madrid highway bridge.
“You are not alone,” France striker Kylian Mbappé said on Instagram. “We are with you and we support you.”
Former players were also quick to side with the Brazilian striker.
“Another case of racism against Vinícius in the Spanish league,” said former Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who spent five seasons at Real Madrid in the 2000s. “Until when? As long as there is impunity, there will be racism.”
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and several of his cabinet ministers backed Vinicius and criticized Spanish soccer.
“It’s not fair that a poor boy who is winning in his life, becoming one of the best in the world, certainly the best in Real Madrid, being insulted in every stadium he goes to,” Lula said.
Spanish league president Javier Tebas criticized Vinicius for attacking the league, saying the player did not show up for talks on the subject of racism that he himself had requested.
The league claims it only has authority to report cases, and that it is up to the local authorities to take action against the perpetrators and the football federation to punish the clubs and referees. But FIFA, the sport’s governing body, updated its own disciplinary code in 2013, with options for point deduction and mandatory relegation for teams in the most severe cases, and asked competition organizers around the world to follow suit.
Vinícius was not happy with Thebes’ position.
“Instead of criticizing racists, the president of the league appears on social media to attack me,” Vinícius said. “Even if he says otherwise or pretends he doesn’t realize it, the image of his championship falters. Omitting you only makes you equal to racists. I’m not your friend to talk about racism with you. I want actions and punishment.”