La Liga is already decided, with Barcelona crowned Champion last weekend. But the rest of the games still have to be played. And during the past weekend at Valencia, fútbol – and the city of Valencia, and Spain as a whole, showed its worst side as racist chants were directed at Brazilian superstar Vinicius Jr., in a scene that has sadly become awfully familiar.
The ugly moments happened as Real Madrid faced the Valencia side at their home in Mestalla Stadium on Sunday, May 21. Vini Jr. is one of Real Madrid – and Brazil’s – top players, finishing in the Top 10 in last year’s Ballon d’Or awards and representing Brazil at the World Cup. And no matter how Spanish media tried to spin it, he didn’t deserve the racist abuse thrown at him.
Racist abuse started early, with Valencia fans screaming racist chants at the player from the moment he stepped off the team bus.
But it reached a fever pitch during the game, with what felt like the entire stadium joining in on racist chants against the player.
Vini Jr. pointed it out, and a scuffle occurred. The referee then proceeded to show a red card to Vini Jr., and him alone. The game then continued, without any fans being removed from the field or acknowledgment of the racist abuse he was receiving during the game.
But the response from other Real Madrid players, the coach, fans, and sports personalities alike has been swift and unequivocal with Carlo Ancelotti and Rio Ferdinand backing Vini Jr.
This cannot be allowed to stand. The question now is – what will Spain’s La Liga do? This is, after all, not the first or second time Vini Jr. has been subjected to racist abuse, and he is far from the first player to find himself in this situation. Platitudes are not enough. Words don’t come even close.
After the game, Vini Jr. released a statement on Twitter in response to Javier Tebas Medrano’s, the President of La Liga, tweet where he tried to place the blame on the player. Vini Jr. said, “Once again, instead of criticizing racists, the president of La Liga appears on social media to attack me.” He followed that up with, “As much as you talk and pretend not to read, the image of your championship is shaken.”
It’s time La Liga finds a way to punish not just those fans – and teams, that don’t take the fight against racism as seriously as they take the fate of their team. Whoever doesn’t strongly condemn racism like Vinicius Jr. faced this weekend is excusing it. It’s as simple as that.