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‘Racism is normal in LaLiga’: Vinicius Junior sent off after facing racist abuse at Valencia

The Real Madrid star said the league that ‘once belonged to Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi today belongs to racists’

Jamie Braidwood
Sunday 21 May 2023 22:02 BST
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Vinicius responds to abuse from the stands
Vinicius responds to abuse from the stands (REUTERS)

Vinicius Junior said “racism is normal in LaLiga” after the Real Madrid star was sent off having faced racist abuse from the stands in a 1-0 defeat at Valencia on Sunday.

The match at the Mestalla was halted for 10 minutes in the second half as Vinicius pointed out fans to the referee who he said had racially abused him.

The Brazilian continued to play but was sent off in injury time after he became involved in a brawl with Valencia players. The 22-year-old shoved Valencia striker Hugo Duro as tempers flared between both sides, with VAR deciding it warranted a red card.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti condemned the abuse and said Vinicius’s reaction was “understandable” in the circumstances.

Vinicius has been subjected to racist abuse several times this season. Before Sunday’s match, LaLiga have filed as many as eight instances of “racist behaviour” against the forward this season, including against Real Madrid’s rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

In a post on social media, Vinicius said the “championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi today belongs to racists”.

“It wasn’t the first time, nor the second, nor the third,” Vinicius said. “Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it.

“Today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defence. But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists.”

In an extraordinary response to Vinicius on Twitter, the president of LaLiga, Javier Tebas, accused the Brazilian of “insulting” the Spanish league with his comments.

Tebas claimed Vinicius had not shown up to “two agreed dates” to discuss LaLiga’s response to racist abuse.

In a statement, LaLiga said it will open an investigation into Sunday’s incident at Valencia and will take legal action if “any hate crime is detected”.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior is restrained by Antonio Rudiger and Thibaut Courtois after being sent off (REUTERS)

Ancelotti said LaLiga “has a problem” after revealing he wanted the referee to stop the match following the racist abuse.

“I don’t want to talk about football today, there is no meaning in talking about football today,” Ancelotti said.

“What we saw today is unacceptable. An entire stadium chanting racist slurs. “I asked him if he wanted to keep playing, and he stayed in the game.

“LaLiga have a problem here. For me Vinicius is the most important player in the world.  LaLiga has a problem, these episodes of racism have to stop the match.

“It’s the entire stadium that is insulting a player with racist chants and the match has to stop. I would say the same if we were winning 3-0, there is no other way.

“Vinicius is very sad, he is angry. Something like this can’t happen in the world we live in.”

Real Madrid manager Ancelotti refused to talk about football after Vinicius was abused (Getty Images)

La Liga’s statement read: “In view of the incidents that occurred during the Valencia CF – Real Madrid CF match at the Mestalla Stadium, La Liga informs that it has requested all available images to investigate what happened.

“Once the investigation has been completed, if any hate crime is detected, La Liga will proceed to take the appropriate legal action.

“La Liga will also investigate the images in which racist insults were allegedly directed towards Vinicius Jr outside the Mestalla stadium.”

In their own statement, Valencia condemned “isolated incidents”.

“Valencia CF wish to publicly condemn insults and attacks of all kinds in football. Although this is an isolated episode, insults to any opposing player have no place in football and do not fit with the values and identity of Valencia CF. The club are investigating what occurred and will take the most severe measures against the perpetrators.

“Valencia CF also condemn any offence and request the utmost respect for our fans. Whilst strongly denouncing these isolated incidents, Valencia CF would like to thank the more than 46,000 fans in attendance for their support for the team.”

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