Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales has admitted Spanish football has a racism problem following the racism directed at Vinicius Jr by Valencia fans.
During the Real Madrid v Valencia game on Sunday 21st May Vinicius Jr was sent off at the end of the game but experienced racist abuse from members of the crowd and play was stopped whilst he attempted to point out those who had abused him. Following the match he said on Instagram “It wasn’t the first time, not the second and not the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, so does the Federation and the opponents encourage it. I am so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi, today belongs to the racists. A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and I love, but which export the image to the world from a racist country. Sorry for the Spaniards who do not agree, but today, In Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately with everything that happens on a weekly basis, I have no way to defend. But I’m strong and will go to the end against the racists. Even though it’s far from here.”
Following the statement fellow sport stars such as Rio Ferdinand, Kylian Mbappe and Lewis Hamilton expressed their support for Vinicius Jr but La Liga President Javier Tebas said on Twitter “Since those who should not explain to you what it is and what it can do @LaLiga in cases of racism, we have tried to explain it to you, but you have not shown up for either of the two agreed dates that you requested yourself. Before criticizing and insulting @LaLiga, it is necessary that you inform yourself properly @Vinijr. Do not let yourself be manipulated and make sure you fully understand each other's competencies and the work we have been doing together.”
Rubiales has now labelled these comments as “irresponsible” and added “Probably Vinicius is more right than we think and we all need to do more about racism.”
Real Madrid said on Monday they have lodged a hate crime complaint following the incident - the 10th episode of alleged racism involving the young soccer star that has been reported to prosecutors this season, according to LaLiga.
Spanish police continue to investigate a possible hate crime against Vinicius Jr after a mannequin wearing his number 20 shirt was hung from a bridge outside Real Madrid's training ground in January ahead of the club's derby match with Atletico Madrid.
Prosecutors dropped a complaint filed for racist chants aimed at the player in September during another game against Atletico Madrid.
The prosecutor archived the case because the chants of "monkey" were only said a couple of times and "only lasted a few seconds," highlighting how Spain's penal code makes it difficult to prosecute racist incidents at football games.#
FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the Spanish Government have called on La Liga to utilise harsher punishments such as points deductions, playing games behind closed doors and completely ending games as deterrents against racism.