The recent incident involving Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr., who reported racist abuse from opposition fans during their La Liga match against Valencia on Sunday, has sparked widespread condemnation and support from the footballing world. However, the handling of the incident has drawn criticism, including from the Brazilian government.
Following the match, Vinicius and La Liga president Javier Tebas engaged in a heated exchange on Twitter. The Brazilian player accused La Liga of being a haven for racists, to which Tebas responded by stating that Vinicius had twice failed to attend a meeting to discuss measures against racism. Tebas insisted that Vinicius should inform himself properly before criticizing and tarnishing the reputation of La Liga.
Former Manchester City and England defender Micah Richards expressed his anger at Tebas’ statement, describing it as embarrassing. Richards emphasized that racism is not just a football issue but a daily reality for many people. He called for stronger action and criticized the ineffectiveness of current measures, such as taking the knee or wearing Kick it Out shirts. Richards stressed the need for harsher punishments to address the issue adequately.
Real Madrid has reported the racist abuse directed at Vinicius as a hate crime to the Spanish prosecutor’s office, which will decide whether to pursue a criminal investigation.
In solidarity with Vinicius, the Brazilian FA and the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football arranged for the lights on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue to be turned off for an hour. The Archdiocesan Sanctuary, responsible for managing the monument, expressed its condemnation of the racism Vinicius has faced and symbolically switched off the statue’s lights to demonstrate solidarity against prejudice worldwide.
Vinicius responded on Instagram, expressing his gratitude for the support and using the image of the Christ the Redeemer statue as a symbol of the ongoing struggle against racism.
Richards argued that current measures to combat racism in football are ineffective, stating that not enough people care to bring about significant change. He called for stronger punishments and suggested that if Tebas shares such views, it becomes even more challenging to address the issue effectively.
Former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton echoed Richards’ sentiment and called for Tebas’ removal from his position, emphasizing the need for change.
Vinicius further addressed the issue in a social media post, highlighting the numerous instances of abuse he has experienced throughout the season and questioning why more is not being done to criminalize such behavior. He criticized press releases and attempts to shift blame onto him, emphasizing that racism is inhumane and goes beyond football.
Vincent Kompany, manager of Burnley and former Manchester City defender, commented on Vinicius’ post, expressing his heartfelt sympathy and reaffirming the collective fight against discrimination and hate.
The incidents of racist abuse suffered by Vinicius Jr. this season have drawn attention to the urgent need for change and stronger actions to combat racism in football.