More monkey chants at Vinicius sparks wider racism row over LaLiga’s failure to act

May 23 – Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr has said La Liga is a league of racists, but Javier Tebas has vehemently defended the way the Spanish topflight deals with racism.

La Liga and Spanish football have a racism problem that isn’t improving. Once again Vinicius Jr was subjected to brutal racism in Spain when large swaths of fans in the stands of Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, as seen on social media, chanted ‘monkey’ on Sunday and once again Vinicius was seen as the culprit, sent off in the final minutes of the match.

Even before he had stepped on to the pitch, Vinicius Jr was abused. As a teenager, the Brazilian star moved from Flamengo to Real Madrid and last season he firmly established himself as a regular at Real Madrid, but Sunday’s chants were one of many incidents of racism in the past two years for the Brazilian who has rapidly become a marquee player, stepping in the footsteps of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“It was not the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition considers it normal, the federation considers it normal and the rivals encourage it,” Vinicius posted on Twitter after the game. “The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to the racists.”

In a post-match interview, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti refused to address the actual game but said that the match should have been stopped. Vinicius Jr club said the incident constituted a hate crime.

The incident prompted widespread scrutiny of how La Liga deals with racism.

At a news conference on Monday, Spanish FA boss Luis Rubiales acknowledged that Spanish football had a problem.  “We have a problem of behaviour, of education, of racism,” said Rubiales. “And as long as there is one fan or one group of fans making insults based on someone’s sexual orientation or skin colour or belief, then we have a serious problem.”

The Spanish league has had nine similar formal complaints of racist abuse against Vinícius over the past two seasons, most of which have been shelved.

It was La Liga boss Tebas who offered a defense of how the league deals with the issue. He wrote on social media: “We have tried to explain to you what La Liga is and what it can do in cases of racism, but you have not shown up to either of the two agreed dates that you yourself requested. Before criticising and insulting La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly Vinicius.

“Don’t let yourself be manipulated and make sure you understand the work we have been doing together.”

Those words prompted a furious reply by Vinicius Jr. saying: “Once again, instead of criticising racists, the president of LaLiga appears on social media to attack me.

“No matter how much you talk and pretend not to read, the image of your league is shaken. Look at the responses to his posts and be in for a surprise…

“Omitting yourself only makes you equal to racists. I am not your friend to talk to about racism. I want action and punishment. Hashtag does not move me.”

Brazil’s top politicians also stepped in to defend Vinicius Jr.  On the sidelines of the G7 in Japan, Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said: “We cannot allow fascism and racism to seize control of football stadiums. It’s unjust that a poor kid who’s done so well in life, who may be on his way to becoming the best in the world – he’s certainly the best at Real Madrid – gets insulted at every stadium where he plays.”

He called on FIFA and La Liga to take “serious measures”.

Brazil’s foreign ministry Itamaraty has called on Spain’s ambassador for an explanation. On May 10, Brazil and Spain signed an agreement to combat racism.

“There is no place for racism in football or in society and FIFA stands by all players who have found themselves in such a situation,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino in a statement.

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