Vinicius Jr. suffers racism once again, La Liga doesn’t seem to care

Vinicius Jr racismo racism

Vinicius Jr. suffered another act of racism in a match valid for the 35th round of La Liga, played between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium on Sunday, May 21, 2023.

Vini Jr.: Itamaraty cobra embaixadora da Espanha por telefone; persistência dos crimes espanta, diz secretária-geral | Blog da Andréia Sadi | G1

The Match

Real Madrid visited Valencia at their home stadium, the Mestalla, in a match valid for the 35th round of La Liga.

On one side, Madrid played without many of their starters, as they had practically ended their season, considering their inability to surpass the Spanish champion Barcelona and their elimination from the Champions League by Manchester City.

Valencia, on the other hand, played the game of their lives as they were fighting against relegation. With the victory, the club reached 40 points and moved away from the relegation zone.

However, with great sadness, we can say that the match became something very small compared to the events that occurred on that Sunday afternoon.

As always, Vinicius Jr. was the target of provocations throughout the match, especially after Valencia’s goal scored at the 33rd minute.

Until, at the 60th minute, the provocations turned into the worst kind of insults. The stadium in unison called Vini a “monkey” (macaco). The player, outraged by this event, identified fans who not only chanted but also imitated monkeys in the stands.

The match was interrupted, and the stadium’s sound system requested that the fans stop such chants.

The game resumed, and a new altercation broke out, this time in injury time. Valencia players, instead of showing sympathy for their fellow professional going through hell, endorsed the grotesque behavior of their fans and argued with Vinicius Jr.

The Brazilian star was surrounded by Valencia players, and amidst slaps and shoves, he was choked in a “rear-naked chokehold” by Hugo Duro, a Valencia player.

Vinicius Junior condena impunidade em racismo: "Não são casos isolados" | futebol espanhol | ge

Not satisfied with the chaotic scenario, referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea also sent off Vinicius Jr. for his hand hitting the face of a Valencia player while trying to defend himself from the attacks he was suffering.

The Neo-Nazi Wave and Institutional Racism in Spain

Much of what has already happened and continues to happen in Spain regarding racism can be explained by its history.

In fact, there is nothing that can explain such abhorrent behavior from Spanish society, but we will try to bring here the historical context.

Spain, along with Portugal, Germany, and Italy, was a focal point in the proliferation of Nazi-fascist ideology in the mid-20th century.

In 1939, Francisco Franco came to power in an absolutely illegitimate way, with a civil war that left thousands dead. His dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975.

Justiça da Espanha aprova exumação do ex-ditador Franco – DW – 24/09/2019

Unlike Italy and Germany, which lost World War II and had their totalitarian regimes eradicated from the face of the earth, the Spanish were non-aligned during the conflicts and were not considered losers.

As a result, Francoist ideals based on xenophobia, racism, fascism, and eugenics still remain very present in Spanish society.

This fact is accentuated by the large waves of immigration from Africa and the Middle East.

Unfortunately, Vinicius Jr. is a victim of this culture, which affects all sectors of society.

Racism in La Liga

Vinicius Jr. is only 22 years old. Despite his young age, he has already won almost every possible championship at the Spanish and European level. But it is in the Spanish league where he feels the most helpless and defenseless.

Since March 14, 2022, Vini has suffered no less than 10 cases of racism.

Surprisingly (or not), all the cases have been archived or have not resulted in any punishment for those involved.

Vinicius Jr, in these instances, has been called a monkey numerous times, and even had a doll of himself hanged in public in Madrid by Atletico Madrid fans.

Boneco de Vinicius Junior enforcado aparece em ponte de Madri - 26/01/2023 - Esporte - Folha

All these cases should be subject to severe punishments, but what happened on Sunday managed to surpass any sense of injustice.

Preliminarily, it is necessary for all parties involved, including clubs, players, fans, and referees, to understand that Vinicius Jr is a victim in this scenario. On several occasions, those involved try to justify the racist acts by claiming that Vinicius provoked them.

Such attempts at justification are low and only demonstrate the complicity of a league and refereeing system that endorse this show of horrors.

As if the racism suffered was not enough, Vinicius Jr was assaulted on the field. But there, he could only rely on some of his teammates, his coach, and himself. The Spanish refereeing, whose honesty has been questioned due to the scandals they are constantly involved in, does not even have the ability to ensure Vinicius’ physical integrity.

To make matters worse, he was punished for defending himself against a martial arts move. This moment is a perfect and unfortunate reflection of the inversion of values, with refereeing benefiting the aggressor and punishing the victim.

That’s not all. Believe it or not, the episode of racism was not included in the original match report and was only added later.

But this referee’s stance is just one of the points.

The President of La Liga, Javier Tebas, not only failed to take a firm stand against the case but also had the audacity to respond to Vinicius Jr, telling him he should better inform himself about La Liga’s competencies in cases of racism.

Truly, words are lacking to describe what is happening here.

From now on, what should be done?

It is sad to discuss the topic and acknowledge that there is no evident solution to combat racism in Spain.

This is because racism in La Liga, for those who lead and are somehow involved in it, does not even seem to be a problem.

We can see this in the statements of its president, the attitude of the referees in this and all other matches where racist incidents occurred, as well as the players.

The President openly displays a racist mindset deeply rooted in Spanish society and shows no remorse or willingness to bring about significant change. Whether it’s through awareness-raising through educational processes, severe punishments, or support for the victims, who happen to be the most valuable assets to their brand.

Furthermore, we see how opposing players endorse the behavior of the fans, and even engage in racism on the field. They have no empathy to see that not only a human being but also their own fellow professional is suffering one of the most degrading situations imaginable.

Now, the fight for progress must come not only from those who do not condone such behavior but also from those who express outrage at any sign of it.

The only positive aspect of this situation is seeing the mobilization against racism. Flamengo, Vasco, Botafogo, Fluminense, Atletico Mineiro, Santos, Palmeiras, and Sao Paulo have already spoken out against what happened.

The President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Luiz Inácio da Silva, has condemned the incident and expressed support for Vinicius Jr.

Lula cobra providências da Fifa sobre racismo contra Vinícius Junior - Notícias - R7 Brasília

Moreover, the Brazilian government issued the following official statement:

“The Brazilian government strongly condemns the racist attacks that Brazilian athlete Vinicius Jr has been repeatedly subjected to in Spain.

Given the gravity of the facts and the occurrence of yet another unacceptable episode in a match held yesterday in that country, the Brazilian government deeply regrets that effective measures have not been taken so far to prevent and avoid the repetition of these acts of racism. It urges the governmental and sports authorities in Spain to take the necessary steps to punish the perpetrators and prevent the recurrence of these acts. It also appeals to FIFA, the Spanish Football Federation, and the league to apply appropriate measures.

The Brazilian government has been cooperating with the Spanish government to combat and suppress racial discrimination, promoting policies of racial equality and sharing knowledge and best practices to increase the access of Afro-descendants and immigrants to sports, with zero tolerance for any discriminatory practices. It supports the improvement of international best practices to prevent and combat racism and any form of discrimination in different sports disciplines.”

The end is far from near. In a sense, the problem is closer to its peak than its end. Cases of racism continue to occur and seem to have no solution.

It is up to us, those who do not tolerate this type of behavior, to take a stand in our daily lives. Whether it’s on social media, in the streets, at work, or with friends, there is no room for racism under any circumstances.

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Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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