Brazilian striker Vinicius was the target of racist abuse during a match between his club Real Madrid and Valencia CF on Sunday (May 21st) in Spain. The facts have caused great emotion in Spain and abroad, a referee has been suspended and the police have already announced several arrests.
► What happened?
On Sunday, the crowd at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, where Real Madrid lost 1-0, insulted Vinicius throughout the game. Doubts remain about the content of the insults: Carlo Ancelotti heard the stadium shout “mono”, or “monkey” in Spanish, but a journalist argued in a press conference against the Italian coach of Real Madrid that the spectators were shouting in says “tonto”, which means “imbecile”, without however convincing him.
“Why do you think the referee interrupted the game? Because the public was shouting “fool” at Vinicius? No. The referee interrupted the match because he opened the racism protocol,” the Italian defended. In addition to this incident, a scuffle on the lawn between the Brazilian striker and Hugo Duro led to the expulsion of “Vini”.
“What the racists have won is my expulsion. It’s not football. It’s La Liga,” reacted Vinicius, 22, on his Instagram account. “It was not the first time, nor the second nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. (…) I am very sad. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi now belongs to the racists,” lamented the young Brazilian player.
► What does the court do?
Real Madrid announced on Monday that they had filed a complaint with the Spanish public prosecutor’s office after the fact. “Real Madrid condemns the events that occurred yesterday (Sunday, editor’s note) against our player Vinicius Junior and opposes them vigorously”, wrote the merengue club, which decided to file a complaint so that an “investigation is opened” on these insults which legally constitute, according to the club, a “hate crime”.
The Valencian public prosecutor’s office immediately launched an investigation for an alleged “hate crime” concerning these insults uttered towards the player. The police have already announced the arrest of three young suspects.
► How did the world of football react?
Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti has claimed that “La Liga has a problem with racism”. “Thinking about taking a player out because of racism had never happened to me. What happened today has happened to us before, but not this way. This is unacceptable,” Ancelotti said at a press conference.
The president of the Spanish federation (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, meanwhile admitted on Monday that football had “a problem” of “racism” in his country.
“He was attacked. We called him a monkey,” said Brazilian President Lula indignantly during a press conference in Hiroshima (Japan), after a G7 summit to which he had been invited.
“It’s unfair that a poor boy who has done so well in life, who may be on his way to becoming the best player in the world – he is certainly the best in Real Madrid – is insulted in all the stadiums where he plays,” Lula continued.
Brazilian international Richarlison, retired legend Ronaldo and music icon Gilberto Gil also expressed their solidarity with Vinicius on social media.
In a press release issued after the match, Valencia CF said “publicly condemn any kind of insult, attack or contempt”, and “regrets the events that occurred” on Sunday, evoking however an “isolated act”.
In Rio de Janeiro, on the night of Monday to Tuesday, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Corcovado, was extinguished for an hour in support of Vinicius, who relayed the image on social networks.
Black and imposing. Christ the Redeemer was just like that. An action of solidarity that moves me. But I want, above all, to inspire and bring more light to our struggle.
I really appreciate all the chain of affection and support I’ve received in the last few months. Both in Brazil and the world… pic.twitter.com/zVBcD4eF8k
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) May 22, 2023
► What measures has the Spanish Football Federation taken?
The video referee for the Valencia-Real Madrid match, Nacho Iglesias Villanueva, has been replaced for the next day of the championship, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) announced on Tuesday, without saying more about the layoff.
At the end of the match, the scuffle between Hugo Duro and Vinicius had required the viewing of the sequence by the field referee, Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea.
It resulted in Vinicius’ sole exclusion after Nacho Iglesias Villanueva showed the referee just the Brazilian’s gesture. Duro had however previously held the Real striker by the neck.
► What is the other case dealt with by the justice concerning Vinicius?
Another case concerning Vinicius advanced on Tuesday, in the wake of the insults suffered by the Madrid striker. Four people have been arrested as part of the investigation into the hanging in late January in Madrid of a model bearing his likeness.