Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior spoke out after he said he was racially abused by a fan before his ejection in their 1-0 loss to Valencia on Sunday.
The match at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain was stopped for almost 10 minutes in the second half while an emotional Vinícius called out a fan sitting behind Valencia’s goal.
“It wasn’t the first time, or the second, or the third. Racism is normal in La Liga,” Vinícius wrote. “The competition thinks it’s normal, the [Spanish Football] Federation does too, and opponents encourage it.
“I’m so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi, today belongs to racists. A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which has 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, with everything that happens each week, I can’t defend it. I agree. But I am strong and I will go to the end against the racists. Even if it’s far from here.”
Vinícius, who is from Brazil, was then sent off from the match in the 97th minute after an altercation with Valencia’s Hugo Duro.
Vinícius made a gesture at the Valencia bench on his way off the pitch, too, which sparked a second confrontation.
“I don’t want to speak about football today, but about what happened. That is more important, than a defeat,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said, . “What happened today cannot happen, that is pretty obvious. Shouting ‘monkey’ at a player, and a coach thinks of taking the player off, there is something bad happening in this league.
“I asked him but he wanted to continue. I told him I did not think it was fair that he had to play this game; you are not the guilty party, you are the victim. He continued to play. On top of that, they show him a red card which makes no sense, as it was not an aggression.
“We have a problem, he does not have a problem. For me Vinicius is the greatest player in the world, the strongest. La Liga has a problem. With this racism, for me they have to stop the game. There is no other way.
“Vini is very sad, angry, but more sadness. It cannot happen.”
La Liga is now investigating, and vowed to take “appropriate legal action” if “any hate crime is detected.”
“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,” Valencia said in a statement. “The club are investigating what occurred and will take the most severe measures against the perpetrators.
“Valencia CF also condemn any offense 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.”
The racial abuse on Sunday is the latest Vinícius has been subjected to in the last several seasons. La Liga has filed formal complaints multiple times after incidents after similar issues against four other clubs.
“We can’t accept it, we can’t tolerate it,” Madrid goalie Thibault Courtois said, . “If Vini wants to keep playing, we keep playing. But if Vini said he didn’t want to play, I’d go off the pitch with him. We can’t tolerate these things.”