Black soccer star Vinícius Júnior of Real Madrid CF is speaking out after he was subjected to racist abuse during a match against Valencia, an opposing team in the Spanish League, La Liga.
Before Real Madrid lost 1-0 to Valencia, the match at Mestalla Stadium was temporarily stopped after Vinícius said he was insulted by a fan, according to the Associated Press.
A referee’s official report from the game depicts how the incident unfolded.
“Racist insults: in the 73rd minute, a spectator from the southern ‘Mario Kempes’ tribune directed himself towards player No. 20 of Real Madrid CF Mr. Vinicius José De Oliveira Do Nascimiento, screaming at him: ‘Monkey, monkey’ which led to the activation of the racism protocol, notifying the pitch delegate so that a corresponding warning over the loudspeaker would be made. The match was halted until said announcement was aired over the loudspeaker of the stadium,” the report reads.
Since moving to Spain five years ago, Vinícius said he's repeatedly faced racist abuse.
“It wasn’t the first time, or the second or the third. Racism is normal in LaLiga. The competition thinks it’s normal, as does the federation, and the opponents encourage it,” Vinícius said on social media. “The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and (Lionel) Messi now belongs to racists ... But I’m strong and I will fight until the end against the racists. Even if far from here.”
Vinícius was sent out of the game in its final minutes following an altercation with Valencia player Hugo Duro. Vinícius also made a gesture at the Valencia bench on his way out, sparking a second confrontation.
“The reward for the racists was my ejection!” Vinícius said on Instagram.
Following the game, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke out in support of his forward, noting that the team's loss meant nothing in the wake of the racist abuse.
“What happened today shouldn’t happen,” Ancelotti said. “When a stadium yells ‘monkey’ to a player, and the coach considers taking him out of the field because of that, it means that there is something bad in this league.”
According to reports, Valencia has identified two fans who allegedly hurled racist insults at Vinícius from behind one of the goals.
Some social media users argued that the fans were saying the Spanish word “tonto” (silly) instead of “mono” (monkey). Valencia later suggested that Ancelotti apologize for accusing their fans of racism after misunderstanding what was said.
In response, the coach said in a news conference that the referee wouldn't have started the racism protocol in the stadium if there wasn't racism.
LaLiga said it's investigating the incident, but its president criticized Vinícius for condemning the league without full knowledge of what it has done recently to combat racism.
Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also spoke out about the incident, saying that he hopes FIFA, the Spanish League, and other soccer bodies “take measures so we don’t allow racism and fascism to take over” in the sport.
In a statement on Monday (May 22), Real Madrid said it had filed a complaint with Spanish hate crime prosecutors over the racist abuse.
"Real Madrid expresses its outright rejection and condemns the events that occurred yesterday involving our player Vinícius Junior," Monday's statement reads. "These events constitute a direct attack on the coexistence model of our social and democratic state of law.
"Real Madrid considers that such attacks also constitute a hate crime, and therefore it has filed the relevant complaint with the state prosecutor's office, specifically the prosecutor's office against hate crimes and discrimination so that the facts can be investigated and responsibilities determined."