‘Vinicius is victim’: Ancelotti blasts Spanish league’s ‘problem’ with racism

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior is spoken to by coach Carlo AncelottiReuters

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Spanish football had a racism problem and needed to be prepared to halt matches, after Vinicius Junior was again the target of abuse during a 1-0 defeat at Valencia in La Liga on Sunday.

“The Spanish league has a problem, and Vinicius is not the problem. Vinicius is the victim. There’s a very serious problem,” Ancelotti said, adding that Vinicius was “sad, not angry” after the incidents at Mestalla.

Also Read

Midway through the second half play was delayed for several minutes after Vinicius appeared to be racially abused by a Valencia supporter.

The Brazilian forward stood in front of the fans behind the goal and pointed to one, with team-mate Eder Militao by his side.

Vinicius was later sent off in added time at the end of the game for hitting Hugo Duro during a brawl, with Valencia triumphing through Diego Lopez’s first-half goal.

“The fact I thought about taking him off because of the racist atmosphere does not seem good to me,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“What has happened today has happened before, but not like that, it’s unacceptable.”

Vinicius has been racially abused at several stadiums this season in Spain and an effigy of him was hung from a bridge in the Spanish capital by Atletico Madrid fans.

La Liga have filed legal complaints to Spanish authorities on multiple occasions this season, with the league pledging on Sunday to do so again after investigating.

However Ancelotti said it was not helping.

“What has happened? Reports, and nothing at all has come from it. The solution is to stop the game,” continued the coach.

“I am very sad, this has never happened to me -- I’ve never had to take off a player because of insults.

“He’s a kid, he likes playing football, but in these conditions it’s very complicated.”

Vinicius took to Instagram after the defeat.

“The prize for the racists today is that they have sent me off. It’s not football, it’s La Liga,” wrote the 22-year-old.

The attacker said Spain was viewed as “a country of racists” in his homeland Brazil.

“The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and (Leo) Messi, now belongs to racists,” added Vinicius.

La Liga said in a statement that they were investigating the incident and would take legal action if a hate crime had been committed.

The Spanish top flight said they have been “proactive” in previous cases of racism against Vinicius, filing nine complaints with relevant authorities and prosecutors.

After Vinicius’ stand off with Valencia supporters, referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea spoke to stadium officials, who made an announcement calling for racist insults to stop before play resumed around 10 minutes later.

In his post-match report, the referee wrote that a fan shouted “monkey, monkey” at the player.

‘Lack of respect’

“There’s a lack of respect for Vinicius shown continuously at almost every stadium in Spain,” Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos told Movistar.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said he heard some “monkey noises” after around 20 minutes and said he would have walked off with Vinicius if the Brazilian chose to stop playing.

“If Vini wants to keep playing, we keep playing, but if Vini says he’s not playing any more, I’m leaving the pitch with him, because we cannot tolerate these things,” Courtois told Movistar.

Players from both sides ended up in a brawl in stoppage time which ended with a red card for Vinicius for lashing out at Duro with his arm, although the Valencia forward was pictured with his arm around the Brazilian’s neck.

Vinicius left the pitch making a gesture with his hands indicating Valencia were heading down to Spain’s second division.

Valencia had taken the lead in the 33rd minute when Lopez escaped Ferland Mendy and tucked home at the back post.

Valencia rose to 15th with the win, five points clear of the relegation zone, sparking huge celebrations at full-time, with the team almost safe.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid overtook Real by a point with a 3-0 win against Osasuna earlier on.

Simeone said Sunday his Atletico Madrid team were almost pronounced “dead” last November but was proud of how they have bounced back strongly in 2023.

Dumped out of Europe and fifth in La Liga at the break for the World Cup in November, Atletico came back far stronger in the second half of the season.

Sevilla and Real Betis shared a hard-fought 0-0 derby draw.