Vinicius Junior ha come under heavy criticism in recent weeks, with various elements criticising his attitude and his constant desire to get involved with the opposition once the play is over.
One of his most famous battles is with Pablo Maffeo, the Real Mallorca defender who has put in some nasty challenges on Vinicius. He told the media that the common theme was Vinicius, not the players who give him a hard time.
Yet former Barcelona defender Lilian Thuram believes the debate has been framed incorrectly, as he told Marca.
“There are many players who do not have a good attitude. But you tell me that Vinicius suffers from racism and ask if he should change his attitude… Above all, you have to respect Vinicius. Many times people do not understand the violence of racism. When you are young and you are insulted, it is very difficult. People have to be told that Vinicius must be respected.”
Thuram has recently published a book about racism and sexism, becoming an activist against discrimination after his retirement. The French World Cup winner is keen to bring about small acts of change to break down barriers.
“If there are posters of a player of a different colour in a child’s room, they will not be prejudiced when they grow up. Football can serve to change the mentality, but for this you have to accept that racism exists and that you have to continue working on it.”
Many will argue that Vinicius behaviour is one thing and the racism is another. Yet Thuram has a point in that many people will have no experience of racism, and thus their analysis of the matter remains a touch superficial.