Friday, 26 May 2023, 11:30
Spanish football has been in turmoil this week over accusations of racism among fans. It follows verbal attacks on a Real Madrid forward in a game in Valencia last weekend, pictures of which went around the world.
Leaders of the sport have been at pains to say that football in Spain is not institutionally racist, while many admit that the country is a long way behind other European countries in efforts to stamp out prejudice both on and off the pitch.
On Sunday, Brazilian forward Vinícius Júnior was subjected to prolonged racist chants from the stands after tense moments in play on the field. The player was finally expelled in the last moment of the game for a foul.
With recordings of the aggression making their way back to his home country, Vinícius said on social media afterwards, "These days, in Brazil, Spain is known for being a country of racists... this wasn't the first time, or the second or the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The organisers see it as normal, and the national association, and opponents encourage it."
Support for Vinícius was universal. Fellow Real Madrid player Éder Militão said, "It is a disgrace. You suffer racism, you defend yourself and then they send you off for trying to defend yourself. How long do we have to put up with this for?"
Real's manager, Carlo Ancelotti, called for drastic action. "Condemning it is not enough... we haven't taken steps yet to end this problem," he explained. "There are countries where they don't insult. In England they don't insult as this was solved a long time ago when in 1985 English clubs were banned from Europe for five years."
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernández also called for games to be stopped when racism occurs.
Valencia has already been fined 45,000 euros for the behaviour of its fans and the most vocal part of the stands at its Mestalla stadium closed for five games.
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