‘Will fight it to the end’
Real Madrid failed to revenge their elimination from the Champions League semifinals in the Spanish league. After the beating against Manchester City (4-0) earlier this week, they lost 1-0 to Valencia CF on Sunday night, but the defeat was hardly talked about after the match.
It was mostly about Vinícius Júnior, who became a target of racism for the umpteenth time this season. The Brazilian striker was treated racially by the Valencia crowd during the game.
“It wasn’t the first time, or the second or the third. Racism is normal in LaLiga. The competition considers it normal, so does the federation, and the opponents encourage it,” was Vinícius’ clear language on Instagram and Twitter.
“The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and (Lionel) Messi now belongs to racists…. But I am strong and I will fight to the end against the racists.”
In a statement on its Web site Monday afternoon, Real Madrid reported that it has filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office for discrimination. “These acts must be investigated and the perpetrators dealt with,” it said.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti did not want to talk about soccer afterwards. “I want to talk about what happened here. This is much more important,” the Italian told Movistar afterwards. “When a player is called ‘monkey’ and a coach has to think about taking his player off the pitch, there is something completely wrong with this league.”
Brazilian President Lula also reacted to the incident. “It is unfair that this poor boy, one of the best footballers in the world and certainly the best at Real Madrid, is insulted in every stadium he goes to.” According to Lula, the Spanish Football Federation must intervene to prevent racism.
Valencia player Justin Kluivert apologized to Vinícius on behalf of his club. “I apologize on behalf of us, on behalf of everyone at Valencia, because this is not soccer. It’s very bad,” he said.
Victory for Valencia
The Dutchman had been at the base of the only goal during the match. After a good action by Kluivert, Diego Lopez was able to slide the ball in and make it 1-0 for Valencia. Just before the end of the match, Kluivert was substituted.
Vinícius did not make it to the final whistle: in the seventh minute of injury time, the Brazilian was shown a red card after a slapping move towards Valencia player Hugo Duro, who grabbed him by the neck during an altercation.
La Liga in action
On the website of the Spanish Football Federation, La Liga announced Monday that it is investigating the disturbances in and around Mestalla stadium. As part of that effort, the league says it is requesting all available images taken around the encounter between Valencia and Real Madrid in order to get a picture of what occurred. Images circulating on social media include Vinícius being subjected to racist treatment both when leaving the players’ bus before the match and during the game.
La Liga disputes that it is lax in combating racism and other forms of xenophobia. The federation states on its website that since October 2021 it has already investigated nine duels in which there were incidents involving one or more Real Madrid players.
Real Madrid had opportunities to score after the setback, but real form was lacking and Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardasjvili also proved a stand in the way.
The defeat drops Real Madrid to third place. City rival Atlético recorded a 3-0 victory over Osasuna earlier in the day and is the new number two. For Valencia, the three points are worth gold in the fight for survival.