Brazil stands in solidarity with Real Madrid footballer Vinicius Jr amid ongoing racism from Spanish fans

By Mason Berlinka

Published May 23, 2023 at 02:12 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Spain’s world famous footy league, LaLiga, is home to the leading face of Brazilian football, Vinicius Jr. The exciting new Forward position player has been rising the ranks and is well considered to be one of the best players in the world. However, within the same sporting space, the 22-year-old is routinely subjected to vile and racist abuse on the pitch.

This is a normal occurrence in LaLiga, says Vinicius Jr himself, and something he has consistently faced when playing in Spain. Most of the targeted racism he faces doesn’t happen on the world stage, but happens at home, in the country he plays for.

On the evening of Sunday 21 May 2023, the footballer had understandably had enough. Following a 1-0 defeat against Valencia, Vinicius Jr was once again targeted by monkey chants and abuse from fans in the stands. The aggressive culprits were pointed out by the player to the referee, who failed to take action. Tempers flared between the two teams and he was met with a red card after shoving Valencia striker Hugo Duro, despite having been held by the neck only moments before.

Vinicius Jr has since called out LaLiga, claiming that Spain was known as a “country of racists” and that the abuse has been encouraged by his opponents. Javier Tebas, president of Spain’s football league condemned Vinicius Jr for “insulting” the organisation. This response is reflective of the attitudes in the country, and gives further justification to the Brazilian’s claims.

This is far from the only abuse that Vinicius Jr has received too—back in January, an effigy with the footballer’s shirt was hung from a bridge close to Real Madrid’s training ground. The disgusting attack prompted the club to file a hate complaint report. Four people have since been arrested in connection with the crime.

It was recently revealed that Vinicius Jr does not plan on leaving LaLiga, with Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti stating that Vini “loves Real Madrid.” The decision to remain at the club is also a brave stand up to the racists who aim to ruin the sport for so many others.

Ancelotti showed his firm support for Vinicius Jr, after he clashed with reporters after Sunday’s match, stating that “We have a problem. La Liga has a problem. We need to stop this game. Any game. I would say the same thing if we were winning 3-0. I have never seen a whole stadium being racist.”  It is clear that the Real Madrid manager and club stands behind its star player.

Thankfully, Vinicius Jr also has the backing of his own country, who are naturally appalled at the racism that he is facing in Europe. On Monday 22 May, Rio de Janeiro’s historic and iconic monument, Christ the Redeemer, had its lights turned off at 6 pm local time in a show of solidarity, and to condemn the racist acts which took place at Sunday’s game.

Vinicius Jr responded on Twitter with a heartfelt message, stating that he was moved by the “action of solidarity.” He went on to note: “I really appreciate all the chain of affection and support I’ve received in the last few months. Both in Brazil and around the world. I know exactly who’s who.”

While the UK’s own fight for equality in football marches steadily on towards progress, it’s a shame to see Europe let down the fight, especially against such a talented player trying to solidify himself as one of this generation’s greats.

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