there is one more week La Liga. The Spanish star, once home to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, is going through a period of relative star shortage: no Erling Haaland, no Kylian Mbappe.

There is still Vinicius Jr.leading light real Madrid and the new face of Brazilian football, an unmissable, exciting forward with lightning-quick feet and a ruthless edge in front of goal. Thanks to Vinicius Jr, LaLiga can once again claim to have the best player in the world. He is the key player in the division and is routinely the victim of vile, despicable racial abuse on the away courts.

On Sunday, Vinicius Jr., who was targeted by monkey chants during his 1-0 defeat at Valencia in the latest incident to embarrass Spanish football. seventy. The 22-year-old pointed to the referee, who had racially abused him at Mestalla, and was shown a red card for pushing Valencia forward Hugo Duro, despite Vinicius Jr’s withdrawal as tensions rose between the two teams. around the neck minutes ago.

Vinicius Jr was in tears, the pain clearly written on his face, and he couldn’t stop what was reappearing. Vinicius Jr boldly summoned LaLiga, where he says racism has become “normal”. Spain, he continued, was known as the “land of the racists” after the events of this season in Brazil, with harassment “encouraged” by its rivals. Yet amid widespread condemnation, Vinicius Jr was criticized by LaLiga president Javier Tebas for “insulting” the organization. The style Tebas chose to respond to reflected an attitude that seeped into the roots of Spanish football; The almost weekly racist abuse of Vinicius Jr here was somehow his fault and a reaction to how he played the game.

It is an attitude broadcast on television, Vinicius Jr accused of ‘provoking’ rival players and fans, as the event unfolded on Sunday night. Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who himself seems to have reached a breaking point while denouncing the “unacceptable” scenes in Mestalla, was made to justify how Vinicius Jr reacted when journalists questioned the Italian about whether the abuse the Brazilian had seen was real. racist despite the videos that have already been released worldwide. Then there was Tebas, who had to protect Vinicius Jr. from harassment and turned Vinicius Jr.’s critique of racism into a divisive issue. political figures in Brazil, including president Lulawas terrified.

Now, at least, there are things that promise some tough action, after Vinicius Jr has shifted the focus more heavily than before to Spanish football. Real Madrid has filed a formal complaint with the Spanish attorney general’s office for harassment to be considered a hate crime, and LaLiga will take “appropriate legal action” if necessary. Valencia will issue a lifetime ban on fans they detect. But this is also the ninth case of racial abuse against Vinicius Jr. reported to prosecutors this season. LaLiga presented this as a kind of sign that their response to racial harassment was working, but there have been no convictions yet, let alone sanctions against clubs, and broader inaction has led to this point.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior faces off with Valencia fans after allegedly being the target of racial abuse on Sunday (Alberto Saiz/AP)


Vinicius Jr was racially abused at Atletico Madrid in September.

(Getty Images)

At the start of the season, it was all about Vinicius Jr’s dance—the Brazilian would celebrate his goals with a celebration inspired by samba, funk, and reggaeton that traces back to black history and Brazilian culture. Vinicius Jr was racially abused for this—his dancing was “considered a crime.” He was accused of “playing the monkey” on Spanish television, a heinous racial slur. Before Real Madrid visit rivals Atletico in the first derby of the season, Atletico captain Koke said he would expect “trouble” if Vinicius danced in front of home fans. Real Madrid won 2-1 and Vinicius Jr. went against Koke’s warning. He was teased and whistled throughout, harassed outside the stadium before the game and inside while playing. After the incident was brought to court, no action was taken by the Madrid prosecutors. The decision, he said, was “in the context of football competition”, although the monkey voices were “unpleasant and disrespectful”.

Vinicius Jr’s racist harassment continued. “LaLiga continues to do nothing,” Vinicius Jr said in December. With my head held high, I will continue to celebrate my own victories and the victories of Madrid.” In January, before Madrid played a reverse fixture with Atletico, Vinicius Jr. target of statue hanging from a highway bridge in Madrid. There have been strong statements of reprimand from both Atletico and LaLiga – yet the harassment has become more regular in the second half of the season, in Barcelona, ​​Mallorca, another week, another away field, another embarrassing moment. It had become routine.

Change is needed now. The head of the Spanish football federation has admitted for the first time that the country has a “serious problem” with racism. LaLiga and its president should seriously look inside instead of criticizing the victim. FIFA also needs to understand that its three-step protocol to combat racism has failed to protect players. Vinicius Jr. said he was left without “defense.” Ancelotti said he wanted Real Madrid to leave the pitch and that may have to be the next step – otherwise Vincius Jr will eventually be kicked out of LaLiga and the racists will win.