May 22 (UPI) — Brazilian soccer star Vinicius Jr. says racism is “normal” in Spain’s La Liga amid investigations into alleged racist chants and behavior he was subjected to during Real Madrid’s loss to Valencia. Vinicius, 22, pointed out a fan who allegedly targeted him with vocal racial abuse and play was stopped in the second half of the 1-0 setback Sunday in Valencia, Spain.
May 22 (UPI) — Brazilian soccer star Vinicius Jr. says racism is “normal” in Spain’s La Liga amid investigations into alleged racist chants and behavior he was subjected to during Real Madrid’s loss to Valencia.
Vinicius, 22, pointed out a fan who allegedly targeted him with vocal racial abuse and play was stopped in the second half of the 1-0 setback Sunday in Valencia, Spain.
After play resumed, referees warned fans at Mestalla Stadium that any further racist comments would trigger a game suspension. Vinicius grew increasingly frustrated throughout the match and was given a red card and sent off the field in stoppage time.
On Monday, Real Madrid filed a criminal complaint with Spanish prosecutors to investigate the alleged “crimes of hatred.”
“It wasn’t the first time, not the second and not the third,” Vinicius wrote on Instagram. “Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it’s normal, so does the Federation and the opponents encourage it.
“I am so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi, today belongs to the racists. A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and I love, but which accepted to export the image to the world from a racist country.
“Sorry for the Spaniards who do not agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately with everything that happens on a weekly basis, I have no way to defend. I agree.
“But I’m strong and will go to the end against the racists. Even though its far from here.”
La Liga issued a statement Sunday night and said it would investigate. The league said in a news release that it also would investigate insults allegedly directed at Vinicius outside Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.
“La Liga have requested all available images in order to investigate what took place,” La Liga said. “Once the investigation has been completed, if any hate crime is identified, La Liga will take the appropriate legal action.”
The Spanish League said it filed reports about nine occasions over the last two seasons regarding racists incidents surrounding Real Madrid games.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters that La Liga should have stopped Sunday’s game.
“La Liga has a problem,” Ancelotti said. “For me, with these racist incidents, they have to stop the game. Because it isn’t one person. It’s a stadium that insults a player. The game has to stop. I’d say the same if we were winning 3-0. There’s no other way.”
Madrid will host Rayo Vallecano in another La Liga match at 1:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Madrid.