Brazil’s Rodriques calls on law enforcers to criminalise racist abuse and for clubs and leagues to step up

By Andrew Warshaw

March 26 – The head of Brazilian football says fans should face criminal charges for the appalling racist abuse meted out to Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr in Spain.

Spain face Brazil in a prestige friendly tonight and Brazilian FA president Ednaldo Rodrigues says more needs to be done to punish the perpetrators who have constantly targeted Real’s Brazilian winger – sometimes when he’s not even playing.

Ironically tonight’s game is at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu featuring the ‘One Skin’ anti-racism campaign. But during an emotional news conference on Monday, Vinicius broke down in tears, saying he was finding it “hard to move forward” because of the abuse but refusing to leave Spain and let the racists win.

Rodrigues, who during his tenure has imposed strict rules domestically against trouble inside stadiums including points deductions, says everyone in Brazil feels for Vinicius. He wants to see the culprits face justice.

“This is something that goes beyond football, it’s an aggression against a person’s life and those responsible should be punished by the authorities,” he told Insideworldfootball. “It leaves a hurt inside your soul that is difficult to erase.”

“It’s making a lot of people back home very sad. We have been trying to mobilise all the official channels to put an end to this.”

Rodrigues also believes clubs are sometimes being let off lightly for the behaviour of racist fans.

“Vinicius is a young man with a humble background. He doesn’t have to accept this. But it’s not just Vinicius. Leagues generally have to take stronger action and make sure the clubs take responsibility for what is happening in their own backyard. There should be proper sanctions if they don’t apply sporting measures.”

Rodrigues has been in office for exactly two years and last week struck a co-operation deal with the Qatar-based International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) to help clean up match-fixing and corruption in Brazilian football.

“When I took over, there were many challenges I wanted to address. I first met the ICSS a year ago which led to the co-operation agreement signing. It was because of their global expertise,” he explained.

“This is the right time. We didn’t want to go for some cosmetic clean-up but a proper examination of the issues. We have already taken very strong measures against match-fixing and money-laundering but we have 10,000 games a year in Brazil at all levels so you need to engage international co-operation, however advanced you are, and ICSS are leaders in their field.”

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