Opinion: Time to get heavy-handed – Vinicius Junior paying the price soft touch in Spanish football

Perhaps the two most enduring images from La Liga this season will be pictures of shame. Twice Atletico Madrid fans committed vile acts of racism towards Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, and as all parties share the blame in such a fashion that the spotlight never focuses too brightly on them, it is the Brazilian that is paying the price.

The first of those images occurred back in September. As Real Madrid arrived at the Civitas Metropolitano for the first Madrid derby of the season, hundreds of fans thought they would get into the mood by chanting ‘Vinicius is a monkey’. This was not an undercurrent, a sect or a few miscreants in the multitude, but hundreds, in plain sight, in the open, without fear.

Worse still, one fan hoisted a black monkey doll with a white shirt on it – that was no spontaneous act. The straw argument of provocation, as if it that could ever be a factor in racism, looks a tad flimsy here. At least one fan went to the stadium with the intention of racially abusing Vinicius, nobody else saw an issue with it.

Not least the Spanish authorities. La Liga made the first of those eight complaints following the match. The consequences? Three Atletico Madrid fans had their memberships suspended, but that was the end of it. The Public Prosecutor discarded the insults inside the stadium as ‘disagreeable’, but justified them as only lasting a few seconds and occurring in a context of ‘maximum rivalry’, a heated moment. The Spanish Public Prosecutor justified the racist abuse.

From there, the precedent was set. Spanish football fans could racially abuse Vinicius with impunity. Those charges were dropped on the 2nd of December, during the World Cup. The Valladolid incident occurred in the first Real Madrid match back after the tournament. The frequency of these despicable incidents has increased significantly since.

That lack apprehension about reprisals reached a crescendo with another doll; a black mannequin hung from a bridge wearing a Vinicius shirt. A haunting image, placed near Real Madrid’s training ground – if Vinicius didn’t already feel like he had an angry mob coming for him, then that left little doubt.

Seemingly having identified the culprits, their punishment is set to be the same as those shouting at him in the stadiums. Although they are yet to actually receive their fines. If Vinicius didn’t feel like he had much protection from the mob, now he could be sure.

Those who are keen to spew their bile at Vinicius know that there is a reasonable chance that they will not get caught. Close observers might retort that several punishments have been handed out – fans at Real Valladolid, and Real Mallorca have since been dealt €4k fines and one-year bans from sporting events. Yet those fans felt emboldened by the lack of action at the Civitas Metropolitano. If they do get caught, the consequences are far from ideal, but neither are they life-altering. Those around them clearly do not have sufficient incentive to turf these people out, and neither do their teams.

Until La Liga, the Anti-Violence Commission, the clubs, the RFEF and everyone else involved start to deal with this matter seriously, these insults will continue.

Frequently the argument is thrown out that it is unfair to punish everyone else for one person’s actions, but what is unfair is that Vinicius is constantly punished for the majority’s inaction. It is time that the unfair sanctions are handed out. Stadium closures, docked points, and bank-breaking fines. In the face of this exhausting cycle, there seems a paucity of alternatives.

There seems little appetite for that. There doesn’t seem to be much change on the horizon either. All in all, it’s a rather depressing situation, where at the time of writing the best that can be hoped for is that Vinicius suffers as little as possible. Unless the relevant authorities get heavy-handed with their punishments, clubbing racism out of the game, then the prevailing image will be that Spanish football is a soft touch on the topic.

Tags Atletico Madrid La Liga Real Betis Real Madrid Real Mallorca Real Valladolid Vincius Junior


  1. At this point, deducting 3pts would be an option. I swear that team fans wouldnt even consider racism again.

    Problem is, la Liga is rigged to keep the mor.ns paying year in year out. Just look at arbitrarily used handball decisions, such as handball call on Asensio earlier in season and non call when Vazquez crossed and it bounced off Mirandas foot to his hand.
    Dispensing justice would interfere with match fixing and bread & circus concept Liga has become since VAR introduction and their lack of urgency to fix this, in fact tells volumes.

    Just boycott this trash. If enough people stop paying they will get the hint.

    1. I am a Real Madrid fan ,but Spanish football is becoming an eye sore with the way it condones racism against Vinicius Jr.

      1. I agree. Its a disgrace and an abomination to all common sense and decency.

        Neymar was same player as Vini, flair, style, dribblings, samba joy for life… but he was protected more by referees.

        Do Madrid have to donate millions to Negreira so they can protect our Vini as well? Or do people just have to say enough is enough and show their displeasure with their wallets?

  2. I am a Real Madrid fan ,but Spanish football is becoming an eye sore with the way it condones racism against Vinicius Jr.

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