Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior has hit out at Spain’s top football league after being subjected to racist abuse by fans, claiming the division “now belongs to racists”.
Vinicius, a Brazil international, made the comments after he appeared in his side’s 1-0 away loss to Valencia, on Sunday.
Madrid have confirmed it has summitted an official complaint to Spain’s Attorney General’s Office, adding that the behaviour directed at Vinicius constitutes a “hate crime”.
Valencia say police have identified a fan who made racist gestures at Vincius and that individual faces a lifetime stadium ban from the Mestalla.
Meanwhile Vinicius was drawn into a public spat with the president of La Liga over his response to racism within the Spanish league.
The La Liga match was temporarily stopped for seven minutes in the second-half, after the 22-year-old told the match referee he had been racially abused by fans who chanted “monkey” at him.
He proceeded to approach the stands and point at the supporters he knew were responsible, as players from both teams tried to restore calm.
Police eventually arrived in the stands to deal with the supporters while an announcement was made asking fans to behave.
After the match finished however, further evidence emerged of widespread abuse aimed at Vinicius, both inside and outside the stadium.
“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,” Vinicius said in a social media post.
“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.”
This sparked an extraordinary spat with La Liga president Javier Tebas, who criticised Vinicius for attacking the league.
Suggesting moves have been made to combat racism. He added the Madrid player had failed to show up for talks on the subject, which he had requested himself.
“Before criticising and insulting La Liga, it is necessary that you inform yourself properly,” he said.
The player’s response: “Once again, instead of criticizing racists, the president of La Liga appears on social media to attack me. As much as you talk & pretend not to read, the image of your league is shaken.”
Tebas responded: “Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist. It is very unfair to say this.”
Vinicius has been subjected to racial abuse on several occasions since joining Real Madrid five years ago. La Liga has made nine formal complaints regarding racist abuse of Vinicius in the previous two seasons.
Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti said he considered replacing the star forward after the incident was raised.
An incensed Ancelotti refused to talk about the game during his post-match interviews, saying his team’s loss meant nothing.
He said: “What happened today shouldn’t happen. 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.”
He added: “The game should have been stopped. This shouldn’t happen. It wasn’t only one person, as it has happened in several stadiums.
“Here, it was a stadium racially insulting a player, the game had to stop. I would have said the same thing if it was 3-0 for us. You have to stop the game, there was no way around it.”
La Liga has said it has requested images from the game to investigate what happened, and will potentially probe a separate incident outside Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium where a large group of supporters allegedly shouted racist abuse as the Madrid bus arrived.
Madrid, in a statement, said it “strongly condemns” the events that marred the club’s clash with Valencia, adding it had complained to prosecutors in Spain on the basis of “crimes of hatred and discrimination”.