Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr. and manager condemn La Liga for racism following Valencia clash

 

Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid looks on during the LaLiga Santander match between Valencia CF and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Mestalla on May 21, 2023 in Valencia, Spain. 

In the wake of a distasteful incident during a La Liga match between Real Madrid and Valencia on Sunday evening, Vinicius Jr., Real Madrid’s star forward, and manager Carlo Ancelotti have accused the Spanish league of failing to adequately address racism.

Hostile scenes unfolded at the Mestalla stadium, where Valencia’s home crowd, rather than solely supporting their team, openly subjected visiting player Vinicius Jr. to racial slurs. Racist taunts could be distinctly heard from the crowd within the first 20 minutes of the match, and the harassment continued throughout the game.

The incident escalated when Vinicius Jr. was issued a red card following an on-pitch conflict involving Valencia’s Hugo Duro. What started as an assault by Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili turned ugly when Duro restrained Vinicius Jr. in a headlock for approximately ten seconds.

Subsequently, Vinicius Jr. responded by pushing Duro away, who theatrically fell to the ground, leading to the Brazilian’s dismissal. Surprisingly, the referee overlooked Mamardashvili’s initial aggression and Duro’s choking hold.

Reacting to the incident, Manchester United’s legend Rio Ferdinand expressed his disbelief on social media, “Who is protecting Vinicius Jr in Spain? He receives a red card after being choked and receiving racial abuse during the game…wtf.”

The racial insults were so disruptive that play had to be temporarily suspended. Stadium announcements were made, threatening spectators with expulsion and bans for continuing racial abuse. Whether any spectators were penalized remains unclear.

Having demonstrated stellar performance over the last two to three seasons, Vinicius Jr. has become a prominent figure in football, making him a frequent target of racial abuse.

Following this incident, the Brazilian player has openly criticized La Liga. He expressed his disappointment on social media, stating, “Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, so does the Federation and the opponents encourage it.”

He further suggested that La Liga “belongs to the racists,” reflecting his frustration about living in a country where he experiences racism. He acknowledged Spain for being his second home since joining Real Madrid but expressed how these experiences have marred the country’s reputation.

“Sorry for the Spaniards who do not agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, with everything that happens on a weekly basis, I have no way to defend,” he said.

Echoing Vinicius Jr.’s sentiments, Ancelotti called for La Liga to reassess its protocols addressing racial abuse during matches. He also expressed his willingness to halt a game in response to racial slurs directed at his players. Other Real Madrid players also voiced their revulsion at Sunday’s episode.

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