Vinicius Junior has been subjected to repeated racist insults since he arrived in Spain five years ago
More than 100 Brazilians reportedly gathered in front of the Spanish consulate building in Sao Paulo on Tuesday to protest against the racist abuse of Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior in Spain’s top-flight football league, La Liga.
The protesters, some belonging to human rights groups movements, chanted slogans such as “La Liga is racist” and “End racism in Spain and in Brazil” for about an hour. They brought banners and stickers that read “Vini Jr, I am with you.” They also projected the words “It is not soccer, it is racism” onto the walls of the consulate. Some even brought flares.
Vinicius Junior has been subjected to repeated racist insults since he arrived in Spain five years ago. Since the Spanish league season began in September, he has experienced racist abuse by fans on many occasions.
The outrage, however, came to a boil last Sunday after Vinicius Junior was subjected to racist chants by Valencia fans. The 22-year-old forward confronted the crowd at the Mestalla stadium, before being sent off unfairly by the referee for defending himself from an attack from Valencia player Hugo Duro.
Real Madrid football club filed a complaint with the Spanish prosecutor’s office. The club says the insults legally constitute a “hate crime” against the Brazilian striker.
Since Sunday’s incident, Vinicius Junior has uploaded several videos and posts on social media highlighting the various times he has been subject to racist abuse by rival fans.
Former Brazilian football player Claudia Rodrigues, 51, was one of the organisers of the protest in Brazil and wanted to show the Spanish government it needs to act.
“Vini behaved as a warrior, a Brazilian man that honours our ancestors,” Rodrigues said. “Vini is facing racism in Europe. Regardless of financiers, sponsors, it is very important for our society and very important for young Black people, who look at them as heroes.”
Spanish police have arrested seven people accused of racially insulting the Real Madrid player. Three were detained in Valencia for abuse against Vinicius Junior after Sunday’s match. Four were arrested in Madrid for allegedly hanging an effigy of the player off a motorway bridge in January.
Representatives of several Brazilian Black movements read out loud a statement showing support for the 22-year-old football star. Drivers honked in support and chanted against the Spanish league from their cars.
The statement said Vinicius Junior faced aggression “of the Spanish far-right that oppresses Blacks” and “Vini Jr makes us proud.”
“We will be standing next to him, with clenched fists and our heads high up.”
Spanish football officials also acted Tuesday, fining Valencia €45,000 and closing part of the team’s stadium for the next five games.