Vinicius Junior: a New Case of Racism that Remains in Impunity

The Real Madrid star received serious racist insults in several Spanish stadiums. We review the chronology of the cases of racism and what actions LaLiga has taken.

Vinicius Jr.

Photo: TW-vinijr

LatinAmerican Post | Javier Aldana

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Leer en español: Vinicius Junior: un nuevo caso de racismo que queda en la impunidad

Vinícius Jr. is one of the stars of world soccer whose progression in recent years is exemplary. The Brazilian arrived at Real Madrid Castilla in 2018 and in 2019 he was promoted to the first team. There, he had seasons with many sporting inconveniences that generated ridicule from the fans and some media. However, in the 2021/2022 season, Vinicius adapted to the competition and began to achieve numbers and a remarkable game. Finally, at that moment, the racist attacks against the Brazilian star of Real Madrid began.

Chronology of the Racist Attacks Against Vinicius

Vinicius achieved a good performance during Real Madrid's visit to the Camp Nou to face Barcelona in the 2021/2022 season. However, on October 24, 2021, the first racist insult towards the Brazilian occurred in a Spanish field. In the same season, on March 14, 2022, the Brazilian not only received strong attacks at the Mallorca stadium, he also received racist insults from the stands.

In the 2022/2023 season, Vinicius began to be accused of being a provocateur for his celebration dances on the pitch. For this reason, he received racist attacks at the Atlético de Madrid Metropolitan stadium on September 18, 2022. Then, a commentator from the renowned program El Chiringuito de España called Pedro Bravo called Vinicius a “monkey” in the middle of the broadcast and sent him away back to Brazil.

In December 2022, Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup in Qatar and Iván Alejo, a footballer for Cádiz in Spain, published a tweet with dance emoticons and a monkey covering its mouth, this in the form of a mockery of the Brazilian Real Madrid player. Later, on December 30, 2022, Real Madrid faced Valladolid at the José Zorrilla Stadium and there Vinicius was the victim of various racist insults from the local fans.

Immediately, on February 5, 2023, in the Mallorca stadium, racist insults were launched at Vinicius for the second consecutive season. Then, on February 18, 2023, at the El Sadar Stadium in Osasuna, the Brazilian received racist insults again, which he also received at the Benito Villamarín Stadium in Betis on March 5, 2023. When Real Madrid visited Barcelona on March 19 of the same year, racist insults were also thrown at the 22-year-old Brazilian.

Similarly, on April 25, 2023, the Estadi Montilivi of Girona was the epicenter of racist attacks against Vinícius Jr. The public attending the Mestalla stadium on May 21, for the match between Valencia and Real Madrid, launched insults to Vinicius because of his race, calling him a monkey and making derogatory gestures.

This problem triggered a serious worldwide controversy in which various soccer figures expressed their support for Vinícius Júnior. Likewise, Brazil showed its solidarity towards its soccer player with statements by political figures and the media, including President Lula da Silva. For his part, Vinicius decided to publish a video exposing how he is persecuted and discriminated against in different stadiums in Spain. Finally, Real Madrid led by Florentino Pérez showed their support for Vinicius with statements denouncing the situation.

War Against Racism in LaLiga and other European Leagues

Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, staunchly defended the Spanish competition after Vinicius's statements. Initially, the Brazilian affirmed that racism is normal in the Iberian championship, since, together with the Federation, he considers such behavior as normal. In addition, he argued that rivals encourage racial discrimination. In contrast, Tebas affirmed that neither LaLiga nor Spain are racist and defended the processes against racism that they have carried out.

First, the president of LaLiga affirmed that in the current season nine racist insults (eight of them about Vinicius) were denounced within his powers. Second, he confirmed that within his work plan to combat racism, he increased the presence of workers inside the stadiums to report inappropriate behavior.

In contrast, Luis Rubiales, president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, admitted that in Spain they have a problem of education, behavior, and racism. Similarly, it was learned that the complaints filed by LaLiga for racist conduct against Vinicius in the last two seasons were filed, mostly by prosecutors.

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FIFA and UEFA have developed a three-step action protocol against racist attacks. First, the referee suspends the game and the attendees are notified over the public address system. Second, the teams go into the locker room if the racist insults continue. And third, the match is canceled if the first two steps were unsuccessful. Several countries such as Germany welcome this measure, and in countries such as Italy, France and England, work is being done to identify racists in order to sanction them with prohibitions or monetary fines.

In South America, Conmebol launched the campaign in 2022: “ENOUGH! – No more racism in football”. There, stronger sanctions were implemented for those who insult with racism in stadiums. For example, players who use racist expletives can be suspended for five games. For its part, if the insults come from a fan, they can be sanctioned with one hundred thousand US dollars or the stadium can be closed for an indefinite number of games. Vinicius once again put a serious problem on the table that has not been eradicated in football stadiums in many countries. It is hoped that soon there will be an effective plan to suppress racist acts in the beautiful game once and for all.