Whether one likes it or not, racism has always been integral to football. And it reared its ugly head recently when the Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Jr was subjected to racist chants from Valencia’s supporters. This caused the match to be stopped briefly during the second half. Vinicus Jr was later sent off after an altercation with Valencia player Hugo Duro.
While Valencia won the match 1-0, the incident entirely mired the post-match. This also brings the recent spike in racism in La Liga, with Vinicius Jr being the target of most incidents. While Serie A has been singled out for its racism, La Liga has also had its fair share of problems regarding racism.
And while President Javier Tebas has said that the league is doing all it can to combat racism in La Liga, there is clear evidence that more needs to be done.
Vinicius Jr: Real Madrid vs Valencia 2023
While Vinicius jr has always been subject to racism in La Liga, the match between Valencia and Real Madrid perhaps brought the worst in the former’s crowd. Throughout the game, there were several instances where the racist chants were so loud that they could be heard even on television and digital broadcasts.
Furthermore, the number of people involved in the racist chants was also huge, which points to a bigger problem. Large sections of Valencia fans knew that there would be little to no repercussions for their shameful act. Their prediction couldn’t be more accurate as nothing was done apart from stopping the match briefly. On top of that, Valencia won the game, and Vioncius jr got sent off irked by this constant abuse which will only bolster the spirit of those looking to increase racism in La Liga.
Dani Alves: Villareal vs Barcelona, 2014
One of the most widely publicised incidents of racism in La Liga happened in 2014 when Barcelona faced Villareal. Barcelona’s right back Dani Alves was going to take a corner when a Villareal fan threw a banana near him. However, Alves responded perfectly as he picked up the banana and ate it before launching the ball into the box.
The video of the Brazilian eating the banana became viral across the internet. However, Alves also had the last laugh as Barcelona won the match 3-2. In addition, Villareal also identified the fan and terminated his club membership for life. The Royal Spanish Football Federation also fined Villareal a sum of €12,000.
Dani Alves' reaction to a banana thrown on the pitch by a racist fan during Barcelona vs. Villarreal. Top class. pic.twitter.com/Z64RdLEF6n
— BBC 606 (@bbc606) April 28, 2014
Neymar Jr, Dani Alves: Espanyol vs Barcelona
The season following the banana incident, Barcelona players were again the subject of racist chants. Playing against Espanyol, the Brazilian duo of Alves and Neynar were subjected to racist chants by a section of Espanyol fans. Even Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba (who was sent off) were also targeted by the fans.
Most of the chants said were directed towards calling them Alves and Neymar, Mono, Spanish for monkey, a common racist slur in Spain. However, the duo had the last laugh as Barcelona won the match 2-0.
Mouctar Diakhaby: Valencia vs Cadiz, 2014
In the 2020-21 season, Valencia were playing Cadiz when French defender Mouctar Diakhaby accused opposition player Juan Cala of abusing him with a racist slur. The incident sparked a walk-off from the match in the 29th minute. However, the team returned after being threatened with the docking of points and further sanctions. Diakhaby didn’t play the remaining game; instead, choosing to sit in the stands.
Cadiz, though condemning the incident, backed their player, who said that he had said nothing of the sort and was being portrayed unfairly without concrete evidence. Ultimately both the club and the player escaped any punishment.
Jefferson Lerma: Levante vs Celta de Vigo, 2019
One of the most famous incidents of La Liga racism from 2019 was when Colombian defender Jefferson Lerma accused Iago Aspas of racist abuse. What made it more shameful was that Lerma had immediately reported the incident to referee Alfonso Alvarez who brushed it off instead of calling out Lerma, stating he was tired of his complaints. Alvarez also made no mention of the incident in his post-match report.
Aspas denied the incident happening but said, “What is said on the pitch stays on the pitch, so I won’t repeat what he said to me. In any case, I did not say what he said I did.”
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Mais uma vez, em vez de criticar racistas, o presidente da LaLiga aparece nas redes sociais para me atacar.
Por mais que você fale e finja não ler, a imagem do seu campeonato está abalada. Veja as respostas do seus posts e tenha uma surpresa…
Omitir-se só faz com que você se… https://t.co/RGO9AZ24IA
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) May 21, 2023
La Liga’s Response to Racism
La Liga has always said that they do everything in their power to stop racism. However, the high spike in the incidents of racism in La Liga, especially towards Vincous Jr, proves that their efforts have failed, and they need to go a long way before they can make such claims.
By the end of March, Real Madrid had lodged eight complaints of La Liga racism incidents targeting Vinicius Jr. What has made it more shameful is that most of the racism has come from a section of fans whose chants are clearly audible even for people watching it on television or streaming platforms.
After the game against Valencia, Vinicius lamented the lack of action against such acts. His Twitter post said,” “It was not the first time, nor the second, nor the third,” it said. “Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, the Federation does too, and the opponents encourage it. I’m so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists.”
This evoked a response from La Liga President Javier Tebas, who wrote a post on Twitter, which said, “We have tried to explain to you what La Liga is and what it can do in cases of racism, but you have not shown up to either of the two agreed dates that you yourself requested. So before criticising and insulting La Liga, you must inform yourself properly, Vinicius. “Don’t let yourself be manipulated, and make sure you understand the work we have been doing together.”