In a powerful display of solidarity, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and numerous soccer clubs and players have united to support Real Madrid’s star striker, Vinícius Júnior, following yet another distressing incident of racist abuse during a Spanish league match. The latest occurrence transpired during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss to Valencia at Mestalla Stadium, prompting temporary suspension of the game.
Vinícius, who is Black, endured monkey chants from Valencia fans, prompting widespread condemnation and calls for action. President Lula, speaking at a news conference during a G7 meeting in Japan, expressed his hope that FIFA, the Spanish League, and other soccer governing bodies would take immediate measures to combat the rise of racism and fascism in the sport. Lula emphasized the injustice faced by Vinícius, a talented young player from humble beginnings who has been subjected to insults in stadiums across the country.
Joining President Lula in supporting Vinícius, several Brazilian cabinet ministers expressed their solidarity and criticized the Spanish league’s handling of racial incidents. Brazil’s Human Rights Minister Silvio Almeida, himself Black, strongly condemned the behavior of Spanish authorities and soccer entities, referring to their acceptance of racism as criminal. Almeida pledged to stand by Vinícius, holding not only the attackers but also those who remain silent accountable.
Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, took to Twitter to hurl expletives at Spanish league president Javier Tebas, who had criticized Vinícius for speaking out against the lack of action by national authorities in addressing racial abuse. Paes staunchly defended Vinícius, chastising Tebas for seemingly blaming the victim.
Ednaldo Rodrigues, the first Black president of the Brazilian soccer confederation, expressed deep concern over the lack of action in Spain following this latest racist incident involving Vinícius. Rodrigues questioned how long such episodes would persist in La Liga and emphasized the need for concrete and effective measures to combat racism both on and off the pitch.
Flamengo, the club where Vinícius began his career, released a statement expressing shock at the recurrence of racist incidents in the Spanish league and the inadequate response to combat it. Other Brazilian clubs echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the urgent need for change.
Notably, Vinícius received unwavering support from his national team teammates. Striker Richarlison denounced the historical oppression faced by Black individuals, affirming that those born to succeed cannot be broken by such acts of hatred. Richarlison’s resolute message conveyed that history elevates those who confront and fight against such injustices.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti considered substituting Vinícius during the match at Mestalla Stadium, as the player expressed his initial unwillingness to continue playing due to the racist chants. Ultimately, Vinícius was sent off after an altercation with Valencia players and bid farewell to the home fans, gesturing towards their team’s battle against relegation.
The continuous racist abuse endured by Vinícius Júnior highlights the urgent need for immediate and effective measures to eradicate racism from soccer. The unwavering support from President Lula, fellow players, soccer clubs, and prominent figures in the sport amplifies the demand for justice and equality, both on and off the field.
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