Spanish soccer has a racism problem, football federation chief Luis Rubiales said yesterday, after Real Madrid lodged a complaint following alleged insults hurled at their Brazilian star Vinicius Jr.
The top-flight LaLiga is under pressure to do more to combat racism after the Brazilian president, Fifa and fellow stars such as Kylian Mbappe voiced support for Vinicius, even as LaLiga president Javier Tebas wrote on Twitter that it is doing enough and Vinicius should inform himself “before you criticise and slander LaLiga”.
“The first thing is to recognise that we have a problem in our country,” Rubiales said. It is “a serious problem that also stains an entire team, an entire fan base, an entire club, an entire country.”
A match at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia was stopped for 10 minutes after the 22-year-old forward, Real Madrid’s second top scorer this season (23) behind Karim Benzema (29), pointed out fans who were allegedly hurling racist comments at him.
Videos posted on social media and verified by Reuters showed hundreds of Valencia fans singing “Vinicius is a monkey” as the Real Madrid bus arrived at the stadium before the match.
“I am sorry for those Spaniards who disagree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists,” Vinicius Jr wrote on Twitter after the game.
Rubiales criticised Tebas’s comments, describing them as “irresponsible behaviour.”
“Probably Vinicius is more right than we think and we all need to do more about racism,” Rubiales said.
Real Madrid said yesterday they have lodged a hate crime complaint following the incident in Valencia. Spanish police are also investigating a possible hate crime against Vinicius Jr after a mannequin wearing his number 20 shirt was hung from a bridge outside Real Madrid’s training ground in January ahead of the club’s derby match with Atletico Madrid.