Brazilians protest racist abuse of Vinicius Jr.
100 Brazilians rally outside the Spanish embassy in Sao Paulo to stand in solidarity with Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior after being subjected to racial abuse during his team's match against Valencia.
On Tuesday, some 100 Brazilians rallied outside the Spanish embassy in Sao Paulo to protest the racial abuse of Real Madrid striker Vinicius Junior in Spain's top-tier soccer league.
For approximately an hour, demonstrators chanted "La Liga is racist" and "End racism in Spain and Brazil." They arrived with flares, banners, and stickers reading "Vini Jr, I am with you." They projected the words: "It's not soccer, it's racism" onto the consulate's walls.
Vinicius has been racially abused at several stadiums this season in Spain. On one occasion, an effigy of him was hung from a bridge by Atletico Madrid fans.
During the Valencia match, Vinicius stood in front of home fans behind one goal and pointed to an apparent culprit. The match was delayed for several minutes in the second half.
Former soccer star Claudia Rodrigues, 51, one of the protest's organizers, said the goal was not to gather hundreds of people to the consulate, which is located in one of Sao Paulo's wealthiest neighborhoods but to act swiftly and demonstrate to the Spanish government that it needed to act.
“Vini behaved as a warrior, a Brazilian man that honors 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.”
Representatives from numerous Brazilian Black movements read out a declaration expressing their solidarity with the 22-year-old soccer player. Drivers honked in support and screamed anti-Spanish league slogans from their vehicles.
The statement said Vinicius encountered 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.”
Officials in Spain also took action on Tuesday, fining Valencia $48,500 and shutting down a portion of the team's stadium for the next five games.
World football and beyond have rallied around Vinicius and demanded action.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the abuse, telling a news conference at the G7 summit in Hiroshima on Tuesday, "He was attacked. He was called a 'monkey'."
Lula called for the Spanish league to take "serious measures".
On his part, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Spanish football needed to be prepared to halt matches.
"The Spanish league has a problem, and Vinicius is not the problem. Vinicius is the victim," Ancelotti said on Sunday.
"What has happened today has happened before, but not like that, it's unacceptable," the Italian coach told reporters.
FIFA reiterated that stopping matches is permitted as well as players walking off the pitch in their three-step approach when racist abuse takes place.
"Full solidarity with Vinicius," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement.