Support Pours in For Vini Jr After Suffering Racist Abuse in Valencia

Support Pours in For Vini Jr After Suffering Racist Abuse in Valencia
Credit: Iconsport

La Liga witnessed another unfortunate racism episode during Real Madrid's clash against Valencia on Sunday. The Brazilian star Vinicius Jr was sent off the pitch after furiously reacting to racism. It is not the first time in his La Liga career that the player has suffered from racism. It is 2023, but black players throughout Europe still hear monkey chants.

Vinicius spoke out about the incident and blamed the Spanish Federation of Football for not taking proper action. “It wasn’t the first time, or the second, or the third. Racism is normal in La Liga, the competition thinks it's normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it. I’m so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano, and Messi today belongs to racists,” wrote the Brazilian starlet on his Instagram.

He added: “A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world. I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defence. I agree. But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if [it’s] far from here.”

However, La Liga President Javier Tebas didn’t sympathise with the player, responding: “We have tried to explain it to you [What La Liga can do about racism], but you have not shown up to any of the two agreed dates that you requested. Before you criticize and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly.”

Vinicius was quick to respond. He said: “Once again, instead of criticizing racists, the president of La Liga appears on social media to attack me. As much as you talk & pretend not to read, the image of your league is shaken.” Says directly to Tebas “Your inaction puts you at the level of the racists.”

The Football World Against Racism

Unfortunately, La Liga has a history of racism. Black players suffer from discrimination and hate speech on and off the field throughout Spanish stadiums. Thankfully, the football world unified and supported Vinicius, asking for a solution to the issue.

Ghana’s international Inaki Williams took a chance to call for an end to racism in La Liga. “Racism is inadmissible in any circumstance, in football, and society. Let's get this over with. NO TO RACISM,” he wrote on Twitter.

After the game, Real Madrid manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was not interested in talking about Madrid's defeat. He focused only on the racism issue in Spain. “They should have suspended the match then and there. It wasn’t one person. It was a whole stadium that went crazy,” he told reporters.

“I had never before seen a whole stadium being racist. Maybe I’ve seen a few people being racist, but I had never seen that from a whole stadium. The atmosphere was racist. This was unacceptable. This league has a racism problem,” said the Real Madrid manager.

Xavi also took a stand against racism at his Barcelona press conference, saying: “Unfortunately, when there are cases of racism, it’s very sad these things can happen in 2023. There are no excuses. We need to condemn these acts of racism as we see against Vinicius, I think that’s what Valencia is doing. They are trying to identify these people. We need to stand up very strongly against racism. That is very clear.”

The issue got bigger as Brazil’s president got involved and addressed the racism many Brazilian and black players face. He said, “A poor boy who won at life. One of the best players in the world and for Real Madrid. We will not allow racism to take over football stadiums.”

A wave of support accrued in social media in support of Vini, and another campaign rose to fight racism in the football world. Football legends such as Ronaldo Nazario and Rio Ferdinand, other influential players such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid players like such as Antonio Rudiger, Karim Benzema, Aurelian Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga, Thibaut Courtois and Fede Valverde, expressed their solidarity with Vinni and every other player that had to experience racism.

Valencia also voiced strong action against the fans responsible for the racist chants. The club vowed to ban any fans found directing racist abuse at Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr for life.

On Monday afternoon, Valencia announced that police identified a potential offender, and they will keep looking for other potential fans who racially abused Vini Jr.

Nigeria Super Eagles Players Speaking Out Against Racism

Victor Osimhen

Nigeria Super Eagles players have used their reach to speak out against racism regularly. Victor Osimhen always insists on communicating about racism, as not doing so can harm players' mental health.

In a press conference, the Nigeria Super Eagles forward said: “I’ll try to preach as much as I can that racism is a bad disease, and it can make someone commit suicide in terms of where we blacks are coming from. So I think I have a chance to erase that, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Anthony Nwakaeme

Anthony Nwakaeme, a Nigerian football player, has taken a creative approach to combating racism by suggesting that the best way to stop abusers is by smiling at them.

“Racism is in sports and growing bigger in football,” Nwakaeme told BBC Sport Africa. “It will continue to spread everywhere, and I can't confidently say when it can be kicked out of football.”

“I experienced racism a few years ago when I played in Israel with my team [Hapoel Be'er Sheva] away to Maccabi Haifa,” he explained. “Right there on the pitch, I decided I was not going to let those abusing me win.”

“The Maccabi Haifa fans were making monkey noises and booing me, then I turned, looked straight at them, and then I smiled. As soon as they saw my reaction, they realized that what they had done hadn't affected me in any way, so they started applauding me, cheering and singing my name.”

Leon Balogun

Nigeria Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun believes tackling racism is a collective responsibility. He feels: “It (Racism) will also affect people who are not involved in the racial abuse of the players. People who just happen to be in the stadium and they will be like ‘wait a minute', those, let's call them idiots, are taking away what we love, what we are passionate about.”

He also amplified that the protocol is ineffective. “At the point it's at right now I think you have to be extreme, even banning a team or deducting points,” he added to BBC Africa.

“You need to shock people the same way racism shocks players. You probably have to go to a place they never expect, where you can hurt [punish] those involved in racist behaviour,” said the Nigeria Super Eagles man.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago

Chandan is a passionate writer, editor, and marketer with a love for football. He has bylines in leading online publications and has worked with renowned sports brands like The Olympics, Fox Sports Asia, and the Indian Super League (ISL). As for the unimpressive part, he loves Chelsea.