About 100 Brazilian protestors gathered outside the Spanish consulate in Sao Paulo on Tuesday (May. 23) to condemn the racist abuse of Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior in Spain’s top-flight soccer league known as La Liga.
The protesters chanted “La Liga is racist” and “end with racism in Spain and in Brazil” for about an hour. They brought flares, banners and stickers that read “Vini Jr, I am with you.”
They projected the words “it is not soccer, it is racism” onto the walls of the consulate.
Vinícius, who is Black, has been subjected to repeated racist taunts since he arrived in Spain five years ago. Since the Spanish league season began in September, he has experienced racist abuse by fans of at least five rival teams.
Former soccer player Claudia Rodrigues, 51, one of the organizers of the protest, said the idea was not to bring thousands of people to the consulate, which sits in one of Sao Paulo's wealthiest regions, but to act quickly and show the Spanish goverment it needs to act.
“Vini behaved as a warrior, a Brazilian man that honors our ancestors,” Rodrigues said. “Vini is facing racism in Europe. Regardless of financiers, sponsors, it is very important for our society and very important for young Black people, who look at them as heroes.”
Arrests and sanctions
Spanish police have arrested seven people accused of racially insulting the Real Madrid player. Three were detained in Valencia for alleged abuse against Vinícius in a Spanish league match on Sunday. Four were arrested in Madrid for allegedly hanging an effigy of the player off a highway bridge in January.
Representatives of several Brazilian Black movements read out loud a statement showing support for the 22-year-old soccer star. Drivers honked in support and chanted against the Spanish league from their cars.
The statement said Vinicius faced aggression “of the Spanish far-right that oppresses Blacks" and “Vini Jr. makes us proud."
"We will be standing next to him, with clenched fists and our heads high up.”
Spanish soccer officials also acted Tuesday (May. 23), fining Valencia 45,000 euros ($48,500) and closing part of the team’s stadium for the next five games.