Star forward Vinícius Júnior for the Real Madrid soccer team has been “a magnet for racist chants from the stands in Spanish stadiums for the past two seasons.”
This past Sunday, before Júnior, 22, even disembarked from the bus when it arrived at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, fans were loudly chanting “mono” which means monkey. The abuse continued throughout the game, and as the referee’s official report reads, a spectator was “screaming at him: ‘Monkey, monkey’ which led to the activation of the racism protocol.”
Understandably, Júnior is fed up and is calling out both his abusers and the country of Spain as a whole, writing on Twitter, “It was not the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it. I’m so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi today belongs to racists.”
“A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world. I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists,” Júnior’s post continues, concluding with “And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defense. I agree. But I am strong and I will fight to the end against racists. Even if that is far from here.”
After Sunday’s incidents, Rio Ferdinand, anti-racism campaigner and former England and Manchester United defender, took to social media, “[Vinícius] receives a red card after being choked and receiving racial abuse during the game. How many times do we need to see this young man subjected to this s***?? I see pain, I see disgust, I see him needing help…and the authorities don’t do s*** to help him.”
“People need to stand together and demand more from the authorities that run our game. No one deserves this yet you are allowing it. There needs to be a unified approach to this otherwise it will be swept under the carpet AGAIN,” writes Ferdinand.
Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA, also chimed in with support, in an Instagram story stating, “Full solidarity to Vinícius. There is no place for racism in football or in society and FIFA stands by all players who have found themselves in such a situation.”
Due to the targeted racial abuse the Brazilian has been repeatedly subjected to, Real Madrid has “lodged a crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors.”