The latest incident of racist abuse towards Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr has been reported to the Spanish prosecutor’s office as a hate crime, the club says.
Real’s La Liga match at Valencia on Sunday was paused in the second half as an incensed Vinicius reported opposition fans to the referee.
Following the match, in which the 22-year-old Brazil international was later sent off for violent conduct, he said “La Liga belongs to racists”.
Real Madrid issued a statement on Monday stating that it “considers that such attacks also constitute a hate crime”.
Spanish prosecutors will now decide whether to pursue a criminal investigation.
In a further statement on social media on Monday, Vinicius said: “What is missing to criminalize these people? And punish the clubs sportively? Why don’t the sponsors charge La Liga? Don’t the televisions bother to broadcast this barbarity every weekend?”
He added: “The problem is very serious, and press releases don’t work anymore. Neither does blaming me to justify criminal acts. It’s not football, it’s inhuman.”
‘Another inadmissible episode’ – Brazil government
Vinicius has been the target of racist abuse multiple times this season and the Brazilian government said the incident was “yet another inadmissible episode”.
Its foreign ministry said it “deeply regrets that, until now, effective measures have not been taken to prevent and avoid the repetition of these acts of racism”.
It urged the Spanish government and sport authorities to “take the necessary steps in order to punish the perpetrators and prevent the recurrence of these acts”.
The ministry added: “It also calls on Fifa, the Spanish Federation and the league to apply the appropriate measures.”
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter that there was “zero tolerance for racism in football”.
He added: “Sport is founded on the values of tolerance and respect. Hatred and xenophobia should have no place in our football and in our society.”
Infantino’s plan to stop racism
Fifa president Gianni Infantino said it was time to “Stop talking, start acting” and set out five points to deal with racism.
He said a three-step process needed to be used across football to deal with incidents of racism in matches – stopping the game, then re-stopping it, and then abandoning the match.
He also called for specific education in schools, an automatic forfeit defeat for the team whose fans caused the match to be abandoned, a worldwide stadium ban, and criminal convictions for those found guilty.
Barcelona coach Xavi called for drastic measures, saying: “You have to stop the match… One insult and everyone goes home.”
In a statement, Real Madrid said it “shows its strongest revulsion and condemns the events that took place yesterday against our player Vinicius Junior”.
The club added: “These facts constitute a direct attack on the coexistence model of our social and democratic state of law.”
La Liga said in a statement it would investigate and take “appropriate legal action” if a hate crime was identified, calling on people to submit any relevant footage.
Valencia said police had “identified a fan who made racist gestures” and that the “club are also working along with the police to confirm the identity of any other potential offenders”.
The club added: “Valencia CF have proceeded to open a disciplinary case, will apply the maximum level of severity, including a lifetime stadium ban against the fans involved, and is working closely together with the authorities.”
Vinicius and Tebas Twitter row
Writing on social media after the match, Vinicius said: “The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists.”
He then exchanged messages with La Liga president Javier Tebas.
Writing on Twitter, Tebas said Vinicius twice did not turn up for a meeting to discuss what it “can do in cases of racism”.
“Before you criticise and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly,” Tebas said.
Vinicius criticised the post for targeting him instead of the “racists”, saying he wanted La Liga to take “actions and punishments”.
Tebas then replied: “Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist, it is very unfair to say that.
“We have reported nine instances of racist insults this season (eight have been against Vinicius). We always identify the thugs responsible and take the complaints all the way to the relevant bodies who have power to punish them. No matter how few they are, our efforts are relentless.”
He added: “We cannot allow the reputation of a competition which is above all a symbol of unity between communities, where over 200 black players from 42 clubs are welcomed with respect and love from fans every week, to be tarnished.
“Cases of racism are an extremely rare occurrence (nine reports) which we are committed to eliminating altogether.”
However, Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has invited his Brazilian counterpart Ednaldo Rodrigues to visit the RFEF and asked him “to ignore the irresponsible behaviour of the president of La Liga”.
Rubiales said “we have a serious, behavioural problem; of education, of racism” which requires “a firm response from the federation, but they must let us apply it and so far it has not been the case”.
He added: “The goal we have set for ourselves is that as soon as possible those who have suffered [racist abuse] at some point can say that it is not a problem in Spain.”
Piara Powar, executive director of European football anti-discriminatory body ‘Fare’, told the BBC they had recorded 11 instances of racism inside stadiums this season and that Spanish football “is in crisis right now”.
“Seemingly none of the authorities understand how to respond,” he added. “There has been no co-ordinated approach to these issues.
“La Liga’s statement from Tebas is the sort of discourse that we’ve been seeing throughout Spanish media, where people are blaming the victim, the player himself. It’s difficult to fathom.
“The regulation is confused. Nobody really knows whether the Spanish FA should be taking action or the government. There’s a lack of responsibility and lack of a single organisation coming forward and saying ‘we will take responsibility for this and see action through until we begin to see some change’.
“There does come a crunch point where the league will lose players [because of racist abuse], in the same way Spain’s proposed World Cup bid [for 2030] will be seen as a weak bid because of what’s going on in football in that country.”
The racist abuse that Vinicius has had to deal with this season
- September 2022 – Some Atletico Madrid fans sang racist songs toward Vinicius outside their Wanda Metropolitano stadium before Real Madrid played them in September 2022. Atletico Madrid later condemned “unacceptable” chants by a “minority” of fans
- September 2022 – Some pundits in Spain criticise Vinicius’ goal celebration, in which he dances by corner flag. He responds by saying “the happiness of a black Brazilian in Europe” is behind the criticism
- December 2022 – Vinicius appeared to be subjected to racist abuse at Valladolid while he walked past fans after being substituted. La Liga said it has filed charges relating to the racist abuse of Vinicius to the “relevant judicial, administrative and sporting bodies”
- January 2023 – An effigy of the Real Madrid winger was hung from a bridgenear the club’s training ground before a game against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey. Atletico said the incident was “repugnant”
- February 2023 – Mallorca fans were filmed allegedly racially abusing the Brazilianduring a game against Real
- March 2023 – La Liga said “intolerable racist behaviour was once again observed against Vinicius” in a game against Barcelona and it had reported the racist insults to the Barcelona Court of Instruction
- May 2023 – Vinicius suffers racist abuse against Valencia
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