Valencia on the back foot over racism slur


Partial stadium closure for five matches in Valencia Image: Mestalla Stadium, Valencia CF, CC BY-SA 4.0

The LaLiga club Valencia CF have been sanctioned with a partial closure of its home ground – the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain – for five matches following the racist abuse of its peer team Real Madrid CF forward Vinicius Jr.

‘BBC SPORT’ stated that the Spanish police have detained three people in connection with the abuse directed at the Brazilian at the Mestalla Stadium on May 21st.

Valencia CF is a Spanish professional football club based in Valencia, Spain, which currently plays in LaLiga, the top flight of the Spanish league system. Valencia was founded in 1919 and has played its home games at the 49,430-seater Mestalla since 1923.

The Mestalla Stadium is a football stadium in Valencia, Spain. The stadium is the home of Valencia Club de Fútbol and has a capacity of 49,430 seats, making it the eighth-largest stadium in Spain, and the largest in the Valencian Community.

The Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, commonly referred to as Real Madrid, is a Spanish professional football club based in Madrid (Spain) who has been playing in LaLiga since 1929. Founded in 1902 as the Madrid Football Club, the club has traditionally worn a white home kit since its inception. The 81,044-capacity Santiago Bernabéu Stadium serves as their home ground.

Valencia has also been fined 45,000 euros (£39,000).

‘BBC SPORT’ further stated that Vinicius’ late red card has been rescinded, meaning he will not have to serve a suspension.

Valencia called the decision to partially close their stadium “disproportionate, unjust and unprecedented” and said they intend to appeal against that part of the sanction.

A statement from the club read, “Valencia has collaborated from the first minute with the police and all relevant authorities to clarify the events that occurred. In addition, we have applied the maximum possible sanction with the ban for life from our stadium for racist behavior of the fans identified by the police.”

The closure will apply to the Mestalla Stadium’s South Stand, an area a clearly angry and emotional Vinicius was seen pointing to during Sunday’s (May 21st) second half before reporting the issue to the referee.

Vinicius was dismissed following a video assistant referee (VAR) check for pushing Valencia forward Hugo Duro to the floor. However, the footage the VAR showed the on- field referee did not include the part where Duro grabbed the Brazilian around the neck before the incident, which is also a red card offense.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said that the referee’s decision to dismiss Vinicius was due to him being “deprived of a decisive part of the facts”, adding that it was “impossible for him to properly assess what happened”.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is the governing body of football in Spain. It is based in La Ciudad del Fútbol of Las Rozas, a municipality near Madrid. It was founded on September 29th, 1913.

Explaining the partial stadium closure, the RFEF added, “It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius, altering the normal course of the match and considering the infractions very serious.”

The match was paused in the second half as an incensed Vinicius reported opposition fans to the referee.

Real have reported the abuse to the Spanish prosecutor’s office as a hate crime.

A number of Brazilians protested outside the Spanish Consulate on May 23rd. The Spanish Government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said, “Spain is fighting this behavior. We condemn it and we are working to eradicate it.”

Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti said Brazilian Vinicius is “very sad” but overwhelmed by the support he has received and believes he will stay in Spain despite the abuse.

Added Ancelotti, “His love for the club is very big and he wants to make his career here.”

The LaLiga teams make stand against racism.

Vinicius has been the target of racist abuse multiple times this season and, following the latest incident, has received support from the footballing world.

And there has been widespread condemnation of how the incident has been handled, including from the Brazilian Government.

Before the night’s games between the LaLiga teams Real Valladolid CF and FC Barcelona on May 23rd, and RC Celta de Vigo and Girona FC, players and match officials stood behind banners which read ‘Racism, out of Football’.

FC Barcelona winger Raphinha revealed a message of support for his compatriot in the second half when he was substituted.

The daughter of Brazil legend Pele also urged football’s governing bodies to take tougher measures against racism.

Kelly Cristina Nascimento (Pelé’s daughter) wrote on Instagram, “Spain should be ashamed. LaLiga should be ashamed. Real Madrid should be ashamed that they’re not putting their foot down and standing up for him. How much more powerful if my father’s legacy was not a stadium, but a movement, a law, a tangible action that fights racism, that makes it so a Vini Junior today does not have to go through what my father went through in 1958.”

LaLiga has said it will request “more sanctioning powers” so it can punish incidents of racism.

The league was criticized heavily following a post-match row on Twitter involving its President (LaLiga) Javier Tebas.

It happened after Vinicius said LaLiga “belongs to racists” and “in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists”.

Tebas responded by saying Vinicius twice did not turn up for a meeting to discuss what it “can do in cases of racism”, adding, “Before you criticize and slander LaLiga, you need to inform yourself properly”.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino previously said a three-step process needed to be used across football to deal with incidents of racism in matches – stopping the game, then restopping it and then abandoning the match.

However, Jonas Baer-Hoffman, the General Secretary of the world players’ union FIFPRO, said such a process had “repeatedly failed”.

The Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels, generally referred to as FIFPRO, is the worldwide representative organization for 65,000 professional footballers. FIFPRO, with its global headquarters in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, is made up of 66 national players’ associations.

Added Baer-Hoffman, “It has shown that the referees are either not well-trained and have the capacity to execute it properly. The amount of times players get yellow cards, red cards for showing their emotions when they are saying what is happening to them and being punished shows that this protocol has failed. We have repeatedly pointed this out and called on the organizations to bring in a new process, led by those who actually have lived experiences to change that protocol.”

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