The Real Madrid star is a frequent target of insults and taunts for being black by fans of rival teams.
Around 100 Brazilian protestors gathered outside the Spanish consulate in Sao Paulo on Tuesday to condemn the racist abuse of Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior in Spain’s La Liga.
The protesters chanted “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 projected the words “It is not soccer, it is racism” onto the walls of the consulate. Some even brought flares.
Vinícius has been subjected to repeated racist taunts since he arrived in Spain five years ago. Since the Spanish league season began in September, he has experienced racist abuse by fans of at least five rival teams.
The outrage, however, came to a boil last Sunday after Vinícius was subjected to racist chants by Valencia fans. The 22-year-old forward confronted the crowd at the Mestalla stadium, before being sent off by the referee.
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, Vinícius 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 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 alleged abuse against Vinícius 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 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 fined Valencia €45,000 and closed part of the team’s stadium for the next five games.
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