There is one particularly frustrating detail for Vinicius about the night he was sent off at the Mestalla after another helping of racist attacks. With the game stopped at minute 71, the Brazilian spotted a spectator in the stands who called Mario Kempes a “monkey” and went there to point him out. “Ese, ese!”, He yelled with his right arm outstretched as the cameras followed him. They have circulated many images of him leaning on the fence, surrounded by teammates, but the official realization did not help any of the fans.
This detail contributed to increasing the disenchantment of Vinicius, who this Monday lamented on Instagram this aspect common to all the attacks suffered: “How many of these racists had names and photos exposed on websites? I answer to make it easier: zero”. One of the things that he has been pursuing for a long time is that the aggressors be identified. According to sources around him, he feels that they are always far from the public spotlight, while the cameras remain on him. Like in Mestalla. “It’s not football, it’s inhumane,” the Brazilian wrote on Monday.
The fight against racism became a priority for him some time ago, who remembers as a founding moment a bad experience for his family at the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio, in a Botafogo-Flamengo stadium, in August 2017. The footballer, who had 17 years old and had already signed for Madrid, he played happily for 15 minutes and did not learn of the racist attack by a Botafogo fan until later. That planted a seed, which germinated in the heat of the example of LeBron James and crystallized in January 2021 in a tattoo on the right leg that is almost a currency: “As long as the color of the skin is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war”, some verses from WarBob Marley song.
As the NBA player, Vinicius believes he can take advantage of his public position to bring about change. And he has set out to do it. “Why don’t sponsors penalize LaLiga? Doesn’t it bother the televisions to broadcast this barbarity every weekend, ”he wrote this Monday. “These are not isolated cases.”
Six months after the tattoo, the soccer player presented his foundation in Brazil, the Vini Jr. Institute, which promotes a program to train teachers against racism. The plan is aimed at public school teachers and addresses issues such as “the loneliness of black children in the school environment and the importance of anti-racist education in Brazilian schools” and “the subtlety of recreational racism and the devastating impact it has on the mind of a black child. The presentation of the plan summarizes the spirit embraced by Vinicius: “We are not going to back down! On the contrary. A new black generation is coming, much more prepared to fight against racism and its consequences”.
The Mestalla attacks, added to the fact that the fan he identified was not seen either, and the expulsion, left the Brazilian “surprised, disoriented and angry”, according to a club source. When he went to Valdebebas this Monday morning for the day’s work session, he met a visit from the president, Florentino Pérez, who had landed in Madrid at 7:00 a.m., coming from Kaunas, where the basketball team won the euroleague. He explained to him what the legal procedure consisted of that the club had undertaken when filing a complaint with the State Attorney General’s Office, and detailed other steps that they would take, including a harsh statement issued in the afternoon in which he accused the federation of not act and unprotect the footballer. “Against injustice and disgust, you have the entire club with you and specifically me on the front line,” he told her.
In addition to the pain from the attacks, Vinicius was still very angry with Javier Tebas this Monday. Not only does he believe that he has not done enough to protect him, but he was particularly annoyed by the criticism from the LaLiga president shortly after the Mestalla match, with the latest racist attacks outside and inside the stadium still very recent. In addition, according to his environment, Tebas gave an inaccurate version of some alleged meetings with the footballer: “You have not shown up for any of the two agreed dates that you requested yourself,” he wrote on Twitter. A source from the player’s circle assures that it was the Tebas team that requested the matches, and that they decided to decline, suspecting that he would use them in the media and that they were not to talk about the only thing that interests Vini: the punishment of racists. .
From that disenchantment comes the allusion to a possible exit to another league, something that his people believe that he does not have in mind immediately. However, the same sources point out that it is difficult for them to imagine the four years that remain on his contract in these circumstances. The continuous attacks are taking their toll on his family, his friends and himself. In his team they see with some envy how they handle racism in the Premier. Although they believe that it still has strength.
The day he showed his tattoo of the Bob Marley song on Twitter, he wrote: “And we will fight until the end.”
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits