Vinicius Jr is right: La Liga is facilitating Spanish football's racism problem, not stopping it

Vinicius Jr Real Madrid 2022-23
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The Brazilian was subjected to monkey chants during Real Madrid's game at Valencia on Sunday - yet the victim again became the accused

Hats off to Javier Tebas! On an evening when a stadium full of idiots at Mestalla racially abused Vinicius Jr, the president of La Liga still managed to once again look like the most ignorant man in Spanish football. Less than an hour after the Real Madrid winger had rightly slated the authorities for doing nothing to tackle one of the biggest problems facing the game today, Tebas posted a response of staggering stupidity.

"We have tried to explain to you what La Liga is and what it can do in cases of racism, but you have not shown up to either of the two agreed dates that you yourself requested," he wrote on Twitter. "Before criticising and insulting La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly, Vinicius. Don't let yourself be manipulated and make sure you understand the work we have been doing together."

The implication that the onus is somehow on Vinicius to tackle Spain's horrific racism problem was truly staggering.

  1. 'The image of your league is shaken'

    Then there's the fact that Tebas seems more preoccupied with silencing Vinicius rather than the racists, which, as the player himself pointed out, is actually damaging the brand that the president is so desperate to protect.

    "No matter how much you talk and pretend not to read, the image of your league is shaken. Look at the responses to his posts and be in for a surprise... I am not your friend to talk to about racism. I want action and punishment."

    And time and time again, Tebas and La Liga, have failed to deliver either, preferring instead to engage in embarrassing diversionary tactics - or, even more shamefully, apportion the blame elsewhere.

    "Omitting yourself only makes you equal to racists," Vinicius argued, and he's right.

  2. Derisory fines and suspended sentences

    Derisory fines and suspended sentences

    We know that there are prejudiced people in every country. Their presence is obviously evidence of a more deep-rooted societal issue that goes beyond football. However, that does not absolve the relevant authorities of the responsibility of doing everything they can to rid the game of racists. And they continue to fail miserably in that regard.

    Why on earth are games still allowed to continue after incessant incidents of racial abuse? They should be immediately abandoned, with a 3-0 victory awarded to the visiting side.

    Instead, the governing bodies continue to dish out derisory fines and partial stadium closures - often suspended - that do nothing to dissuade certain supporters from continuing to target players of colour.

  3. 'There is no joy where there is racism'
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    'There is no joy where there is racism'

    Worse still, the message so often sent out is that the victims of racial abuse need to modify their behaviour. Racists, it seems, are a very sensitive bunch and, as we've seen with recent high-profile cases in Italy involving Moise Kean and Romelu Lukaku, they can even be upset by silent protests.

    So, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Vincius has enraged so many with his dancing. The sight of a young, black superstar enjoying himself on a football field was always going to tip them over the edge.

    As the president of the Brazilian football confederation, Ednaldo Rodrigues, wrote, "There is no joy where there is racism." Only hate, the kind of which no person should ever be subjected to - let alone incessantly.

  4. 'You have to stop the game'
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    'You have to stop the game'

    There really is only so much a human being can take, so it was hardly surprising that Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was so horrified by the fact that nothing was being done about the sustained abuse that Vinicius was receiving at Mestalla that he considered taking him off.

    "You have to stop the game," Ancelotti said in a post-match press conference. "You can't continue, it's impossible. I told the referee that I was going to substitute him. I'm very sad, I had never thought of removing a player because they insulted him. The only thing he wants is to play football, he is not angry, but sad."

  5. 'It wasn't one person - it was the crowd'
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    'It wasn't one person - it was the crowd'

    It was also disgusting to then see a local reporter accuse Ancelotti of besmirching the good name of the people of Valencia by claiming that nearly all of the home fans had been aiming monkey chants towards Vinicius. "It wasn't one person shouting," Ancelotti countered. "It was the crowd.

    It was then claimed that the supporters were actually calling Vinicius an 'idiot', which insulted everyone's intelligence, including Ancelotti's. "The referee activated the protocol for racist abuse - would he suspend play because they called someone an idiot?" he quite correctly asked. "No, it was done because there was racist abuse."

    Sadly, this seems like something many people in important positions find very difficult to accept. Still.

  6. Racism getting worse - not better
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    Racism getting worse - not better

    Valencia revealed afterwards that they have opened an investigation into the whole sorry episode, yet stressed that this was an "isolated incident". And maybe it is for them - but it certainly isn't for Vinicius. He's been dealing with this for years now, particularly whenever he faces Atletico Madrid.

    But he's become such a target that doesn't even have to be present anymore. The anti-Vinicius agenda is no longer confined to the football field. Atletico fans hung an effigy of him from a bridge in Madrid in January, while Barcelona's title celebrations were marred by vile chants, including 'Die, Vinicius!'

    Make no mistake about it: this problem is getting worse - not better - because nothing is being done to tackle it, particularly in Spain. And that's on the authorities. La Liga should be leading the fight against racism - but instead their president has become the face of its facilitation.

    Seriously, hats off, Javier, you've really outdone yourself this time!