Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior expressed his frustration and condemned racism after being subjected to racial abuse by opposition fans during a recent match. The 22-year-old Brazilian international was sent off in the 97th minute of the 1-0 La Liga defeat against Valencia following an altercation with Hugo Duro. Earlier in the game, Vinicius attempted to draw the referee’s attention to the abusive behavior of Valencia fans.
Taking to Instagram, Vinicius wrote, “The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano, and Messi today belongs to racists.” He further expressed his disappointment, stating that racism has become normalized in La Liga. Vinicius added, “A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world. I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists.”
Following the incident, two fans who racially abused Vinicius have been identified, and Valencia is expected to impose permanent stadium bans on them, according to sources. This latest incident adds to a series of racial abuse incidents targeting Vinicius throughout the season.
In response, La Liga released a statement promising to investigate the matter and take appropriate legal action if any hate crime is identified. They also urged people to submit relevant footage. However, Vinicius criticized La Liga president Javier Tebas for targeting him instead of addressing the issue of racism, calling for concrete actions and punishments against racists.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti condemned the incident, stating that the entire stadium chanting racist slurs was unacceptable. Ancelotti insisted that matches should be halted in such cases of racism and emphasized the need for immediate action.
Valencia, the host team, issued a statement condemning insults and disqualification in football and pledged to investigate the incident thoroughly and apply severe measures.
The Brazilian football federation (CBF) president, Ednaldo Rodrigues, expressed his dismay, questioning how long such incidents would continue to occur in the 21st century. Former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand echoed the sentiment, urging authorities to do more to protect Vinicius and demanding a unified approach against racism in football.
The incident has sparked calls for stronger action against racism in Spanish football, with suggestions including match suspensions and players leaving the field in protest. The global football community, including FIFA President Gianni Infantino, emphasized the need for strict protocols and education to combat racism effectively.
The incident involving Vinicius has once again shed light on the pervasive problem of racism in football and the urgent need for collective efforts to eradicate it from the game.