No room for racism in LaLiga

Some fans have disgraced themselves over a simple dance

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

Racism in La Liga. It's a horrible subject to write about and one that needs urgent attention as Spanish football addresses the despicable behaviour of a significant number of Atlético Madrid followers.

I say followers, and not fans, as these people don't support a football team; they disgrace the club and bring shame on the country. Hopefully they will be following football from afar as the club and the authorities ban them from stadia for life.

The issue for these boneheads was the prospect of an opposing player dancing if he scored a goal. It's that simple.

Vinícius Júnior goes through a little soft-shuffle routine when he scores. It's a show of celebration and an outpouring of emotion. Yes, it can wind up the opposition fans, but that is part of the theatre.

I've never quite understood the need to whistle and swear at rival players, but I guess it's all part of the pantomime? Like booing and hissing the baddie when he enters the stage in a puff of smoke in Aladdin.

The behaviour of those caught on camera ahead of the Madrid derbi wasn't good-natured fun; it was criminal behaviour. The idiots need singling out, arresting, and most importantly educating.

They will say it's just banter, a way to get under the skin of a rival player. They need to look in the mirror, if they dare, and ask themselves why they bring a man's skin colour into the equation and hate him for doing a little dance?

The upside of the unsavoury affair is that Spain is finally talking about the subject. The influential Marca newspaper published in black and white this week; the government have reacted; and the club that the idiots purport to support issued the strongest of statements.

They said: "Atlético Madrid emphatically condemns the unacceptable chants that a minority of fans made outside the stadium before the derby was played."

"These chants cause us huge disgust and indignation and we will not allow any individual to hide behind our colours to utter racist or xenophobic insults. At Atlético Madrid, we have zero tolerance for racism."

It's time for Atlético to act on the strong words. It's time for Spanish football to catch up with the rest of Europe in dealing with hate crimes.

It's not time for Vini' Junior to reel it in and stop "acting like a monkey", as one TV pundit described his celebrations. I suspect he's now an ex-TV pundit!

The Brazilian summed up his celebratory routine: "Weeks ago they started criminalising my dances. Dances that aren't mine but from Ronaldinho, Neymar, Paquetá, Griezmann, Joao Felix, Cunha." He added: "Dances that celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it."

To quote a hit record of the 1970s, Vini's message is "I haven't stopped dancing yet ..."