La Liga president Javier Tebas has encouraged Vinicius Junior to leave the pitch if he faces further racist attacks, comparing his treatment to that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat at Valencia last weekend was interrupted for six minutes after Vinicius Jr was racially abused in the stands.
Fans were told over the PA system that “racist behavior by certain viewers will not be tolerated”.
Play eventually resumed but Vinicius ended the evening with a red card for his involvement in a scuffle with Valencia players – a dismissal that was later overturned.
The Spanish Football Federation announced on Tuesday that part of Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium will be closed for five games and the club will be fined 45,000 euros (£39,000, $48,000).
Vinicius took to his social media channels to highlight the repeated racial abuse he frequently faces in Spain and during Real Madrid’s next game, on Wednesday against Rayo Vallecano, his team-mates wore t-shirts with his name on and held up a banner that read: “Racists, get out of football.”
Asked today if he would encourage Vinicius to leave the pitch if he was racially abused again, Tebas – who initially criticized Vinicus’ behavior in the Valencia game before later apologizing – said: “If he was concerned feels, of course. If he feels it is going against his honor or status, I would encourage him to do so. him and his team. He would have my personal support and the support of La Liga.”
But Tebas risked provoking further controversy by saying that one factor in the mistreatment Vinicius suffered was his talent and comparing his treatment by fans to how Ronaldo and Messi were treated during their time in Spain. He added: “We are very aware of the fact and very focused on the fact that not only is he the target of racism, but also that Vinicius is the target of insults.” Why is that? Because he’s a great player.
“If we look a little, which is important to have perspective on things, the big players, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi … are the ones who, in the case of one, have the most homophobic slurs and in the case of the other, the most homophobic slurs obtained against intellectuals.” Disability. Why? Because they are great players, they are the ones who generate the malice to offend. If he’s not a super player, it doesn’t make them angry.”
The 60-year-old, who was first elected La Liga president in 2013, also claimed he believes La Liga can end the league’s racism problem in six months.
He added: “We were able to do an economic check and end the bankruptcy of Spanish football, so we can end racism in six months.”
“And yes, those were some of my worst days as president of the league.”
That night, Real Madrid showed their love for Vinicius Junior and showed their solidarity with him
(Photo: Getty Images)