What Happened to Vinicius Jr? Battling Racism in Spanish Football

Vinicius Jr., the Brazilian football sensation who plays for Real Madrid, has been subjected to recurring incidents of racial abuse during his matches in Spain.

This article delves into the rising star’s career, the racism he has endured, and the responses from football authorities and figures. It also highlights the ongoing challenge of tackling racism in Spanish football.

Despite facing challenges, including racist abuse from some fans, Vinicius Jr. persevered and continued to impress on the field. He has represented Brazil at various youth levels before earning a spot in the senior national team.

Who is Vinicius Jr?

Vinicius Jr., full name Vinicius Jose Paixao de Oliveira Junior, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a winger for Real Madrid and the Brazil national team. Born on July 12, 2000, in São Gonçalo, Brazil, Vinicius Jr. rose to prominence as a talented young footballer.

He joined the youth academy of Flamengo, one of Brazil’s top football clubs, showcasing his exceptional skills at an early age.

In 2017, Vinicius Jr. signed with Real Madrid for a reported fee of €45 million, becoming one of the most expensive teenage signings in football history at that time.

He made his debut for Real Madrid in 2018 and quickly became known for his speed, dribbling ability, and goal-scoring prowess.

Throughout his career, Vinicius Jr. has been regarded as one of the most promising young talents in football, and he continues to contribute significantly to both Real Madrid and the Brazilian national team, showcasing his potential as a future star in the sport.

What happened to Vinicius Jr?

In Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Valencia, Vinicius Jr. once more faced racist taunts, and the Real Madrid winger was also dismissed.

Although Valencia defeated Madrid 1-0 at home to move one step closer to La Liga safety, the game itself was marred by derogatory chants directed at Vinicius, which is not the first time this has happened.

Those involved this time reported feeling that it originated from a greater percentage of the home fans than in the past, indicating that the issue is becoming worse.

What Happened to Vinicius Jr
Vinicius Jr

Vinicius and Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti both pleaded with La Liga to act decisively and start taking the hostile environment the Brazilian winger still faces in Spain very seriously.

Football chief says racism is a problem in Spain

On Monday, Luis Rubiales, the head of the RFEF, acknowledged that racism exists in the nation. At a press conference, Rubiales stated, “We have a problem.” The first step is to acknowledge that behavior, education, and racism are issues in our nation.

We have a serious issue when one fan, one undesirable, or a group of undesirables insults someone based on their sexual orientation, skin tone, or creed.

A major issue that defiles not just a team but also a fan base, a club, and a nation, and we are a friendly one.

“The entire RFEF stands with Vinícius Junior and any other footballer, woman or man, who experiences an insult or violent act because we are here to support them and ask them to help us improve,” he continued.

Rubiales also aimed at La Liga president Javier Tebas for engaging in a back-and-forth on Twitter with Vinícius following Sunday’s game.

Tebas chastised Vinícius Jr. on Twitter, advising him to “inform” himself about LaLiga’s jurisdiction and involvement in cases involving racism. He also chastised Vinícius Jr. for missing two meetings to discuss the issue.

“I am not your friend to talk about racism with,” Vinícius retorted. I want consequences and acts. Tebas used Twitter once more to defend himself and LaLiga’s anti-racism efforts. “Hashtags don’t move me,” he wrote.

“It’s inhumane”

Vinícius detailed the “inhumane” treatment he has been subjected to this season in an Instagram post on Monday, stating that “every game away from home is an unpleasant surprise.”

A video compilation of some of the instances of racist abuse he has experienced was posted with his statement.

He remarked, “And there were many this season.” Death wishes, hanging effigies, and numerous derogatory chants are all documented, but the argument consistently boils down to “isolated cases” and “a fan.” No, these are not singular incidents.

These are frequent occurrences that occur in several Spanish cities and even on television. The video contains the evidence.

Now I wonder, how many of these bigots had their images and names up on websites? To make things easy, my response is zero. None to offer an apology or issue those fictitious public regrets.

Vinícius Jr. brought up an incident that happened on Spanish TV in September 2022. Pedro Bravo, a prominent agent and president of the Association of Spanish Agents, said that the forward “should stop playing the monkey” because he was disrespecting his opponents by dancing in celebration after scoring.

“In Brazil, you go to the sambadrome to dance the samba after you defeat a rival; here, you have to respect your colleagues and quit acting like a monkey,” he said.

Bravo later apologized on Twitter, saying he had misinterpreted a metaphor, after receiving numerous accusations of using racist language on social media.

Vinícius posted again on Monday, saying, “What’s missing to make these people criminals? And give clubs sporting sanctions? Why does La Liga not charge sponsors? Is this kind of cruelty not shown on television every weekend? Press releases are no longer effective, and the issue is extremely serious.

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