What Happened to Real Madrid Player Vinícius Jr.? Racism Is Alive in Pro Sports

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May 22 2023, Published 5:07 p.m. ET

Racism has crept into many aspects of human life, and racists have proven that they'll shamelessly hold a sense of prejudice against those unlike them. Oppression and discrimination against marginalized people know no bounds, affecting things that have nothing to do with race at all.

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In the world of professional sports, it's understandable that fans can become heated or upset when involved in gameplay. During a soccer match between Real Madrid and Valencia, a vile act of racism against Brazillian winger Vinícius José Paixão de Oliveira Júnior. occurred, raising concerns about how racism is responded to in professional football (or soccer). Following the events, Vinícius Jr.. has taken action, calling La Liga and Spain racist for allowing the verbal abuse to even happen.

What happened to Vinícius Jr.?

During the match against Valencia, Vinícius Jr. alleged that he was a victim of racially motivated antagonization from home fans. It was in the 70th minute of the game that the winger called things to a halt, gaining the official's attention to point out a cluster of fans in Mestalla Stadium that were seemingly assumed to be giving him trouble.

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When Vinícius Jr. approached the crowd, the crowd began to fight back by chanting racial slurs and waving their banners at him. While players from both teams investigated the situation, those from Real Madrid backed Vinícius Jr.

During the scene, Real Madrid players stood with their teammate while Valencia players did what they could to regain control of the fans. Coach Carlo Ancelotti then discussed the ongoing events with Vinícius Jr.

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He talked the winger into keeping himself in the game despite his desire to leave the match altogether. However, things continued to escalate on the pitch following the seven-minute delay that the disruption to the match had caused. A second incident involving Vinícius Jr. shortly followed the first.

Vinícius Jr. and goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, among others on the pitch, had gotten themselves into a physical alteration. It was observed by match officials that Mamardashvili put Vinícius Jr. into a headlock, and Valencia substitute Huge Duro was pushed by Vinícius Jr. Mamardashvili was given a yellow card as a form of punishment, but Vinícius Jr. was awarded the first red card of his career.

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Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has spoken up.

During the post-match press conference, Carlo refused to let the conversation go anywhere else outside of discussing the racist attacks directed at his player. "I don't want to talk about football today. There is no meaning in talking about football today," the Real Madrid coach said.

"I told the referee he should have stopped the match. It's the entire stadium that is insulting a player with racist chants and the match has to stop. I would say the same if we were winning 3-0; there is no other way."

He then implied that the racist action carried on was the fault of the Spanish league, and match officials failing to step in when it was most necessary. "We have a problem, [Vinícius Jr.] does not have a problem ... La Liga has a problem. With this racism, for me, they have to stop the game. There is no other way." It was unclear what was actually said, but it was alleged that Valencia fans had used the word "monkey." One reporter suggested that the winger misheard the word, which could have been mistaken as "stupid."

Carlo was quick to deflect these claims. "You think [the referee] has stopped the game because they called him 'stupid'? No, I don't think so. The truth is that the referee has stopped the game to open the racism protocol." The Real Madrid coach later took to Twitter to follow up on the events of the match, once again sharing his anti-racism sentiment in defense of Vinícius Jr. The social media post wrapped itself up with a firm, yet definitive statement: "No to racism anywhere."

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