Real Madrid winger Vinicius Junior was dismissed in the 97th minute of his team’s clash against Valencia on Saturday after an altercation with Hugo Duro. The incident has sparked a debate about racism in La Liga and raised serious questions about how it is handled by the competition, its governing body and opposing teams.
The 22-year-old Brazilian had already caused controversy earlier in the game, when he attempted to bring a Valencia fan’s racist abuse towards him to the referee’s attention. His gesture did not go unnoticed and quickly gained traction on social media, prompting Vinicius to take to Instagram and address the racism issue head-on: “The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists”.
These powerful words have been echoed by the soccer community at large and many of Vinicius’ colleagues in La Liga. Players such as Sergio Ramos, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann have all publicly expressed their support for him, condemning racism in Spanish football and calling for it to be eliminated from the game.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has also responded to the incident, condemning racism in all its forms and affirming that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated within the sport. However, many critics are arguing that more needs to be done by the governing body to tackle the issue, with some even suggesting that tougher sanctions should be put in place for teams and players who are found to be guilty of racism.
The incident involving Vinicius Junior has shed light on an issue that is all too prevalent in La Liga. While progress has been made to combat racism, there is still a lot more work to be done. It remains to be seen what measures the RFEF and other governing bodies take in order to ensure that racism is eradicated from Spanish football once and for all.