The ‘Vinicius case’ puts Spain and its football in the spotlight of the world: "Racism is a huge problem in Spanish football"



The insults to Vinicius in Mestalla bare a chronic scourge in the stadiums. The Movement against Intolerance complains about the inaction of the last governments in Spain

Valencia fans rebuke Vinicius at Mestalla.
Valencia fans rebuke Vinicius at Mestalla.GETTY

The example serves to frame a scourge such as racism, so often neglected despite being chronicled in the stadiums, and only pending the media focus approaching for a few hours and then moving away again.

Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movement against Intolerance, sent a letter to the Higher Sports Council (CSD). He did it after the racist insults that the Brazilian soccer player received Vinicius Junior at the Metropolitano stadium before and during the derby against Atlético on September 18. If I received any answer? No. This Monday, after what happened in Mestalla, we wrote to them again to convene the Observatory on Violence, Racism and Intolerance in Sport, which is created by law. Not even during the current legislature of Pedro Sancheznor in the previous Mariano RajoyThey have brought us together. It’s inexplicable.

Ral Martinez-Corcuera, a professor at the University of Vic and a hate speech researcher, goes further: Why does racism continue in the stands? Surely no one is interested in ending racism in football. You don’t really do much beyond talking, discussing, and commenting. If there was a real intention to end racism in football, it would act. A feeling shared by Ibarra in light of his latest experiences: After what happened in the Metropolitan with Vinicius, we filed a complaint with the Hate Crimes Prosecutor. What did they say? That no one could be identified because it was a mass. And that is the problem. If they create a space of impunity with arguments like the mass, there is no way out. No alternative.

Vinicius he was insulted on Sunday with monkey shouts from the stands of Mestalla. He saw how the game went on after a few minutes of interruption. And he ended up expelled after attacking the Valencian player Hugo Hard. Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, came to his defense at the G7 summit: We cannot allow fascism and racism to take over the stadiums. This is how Lula complemented the accusation made by the striker on his social networks: Racism is normal in LaLiga (…). Sorry for the Spaniards who disagree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists.

Spain woke up this Monday being watched by many of the most important media outlets in the world, such as the British BBC, which covered the racist scandal while soccer icons such as Kylian Mbapp They showed their solidarity with the Real Madrid footballer. The New York Times, in an article written by journalist Tariq Panjastressed that the racist insults that echo in the stands of Spanish football stadiums are neither uncommon nor new.

Is Spain a racist country? Is Spanish football racist?

No, answers Ibarra, and explains: Spain, according to surveys, has one of the highest levels of tolerance in the European Union. What there is is racist behavior. The stigma of racism cannot be generalized, but there are very visible racist behaviors.

Are we all racists? No. Is everything racism? No. But there is a lot of racist behavior. You only have to see the rise of the extreme right, shares Martínez-Corcuera. Ibarra points directly to this type of groups: Because they are behaviors that are especially the protagonists of ultra soccer groups. It is a problem that has not been resolved and that ends up infecting and dragging down a large part of the fans on the pitch.

“Football is not racist, people are racist”

Lorraine Cos, a renowned sports psychologist specialized in dealing with soccer players, points out: Soccer is not racist, people are racist regardless of where they live. It is true that xenophobic and violent attitudes on the part of spectators towards certain athletes are skyrocketing again, which end up contaminating sport and specifically football, leaving a terrifying image for those of us who enjoy it.

Faced with the temptation to mix Vinicius’s gestures with racism, Lorena Cos ditch: No matter how many gestures a person makes, they will never justify that they can be insulted like this. This sometimes turns against them, since when someone feels like a prisoner of constant provocations, they despair, losing control with inappropriate behaviors that, moreover, end up becoming perfect arguments for those who want to attack.

Ibarra has no doubts about it either: A victim of racist behavior is a victim of racist behavior. Spot. Racism is a crime. And a crime can never be justified. What has been done with Vinicius is criminal behavior. The president of the Movement against Intolerance points to information responsibility: There are many commentators, journalists and users of social networks who are contributing to a climate of intolerance. The final damage comes together in daily life and in the image of a country and a sport.

Martínez-Corcuera, from his experience as a researcher of hate messages, forces deep reflection: Yesterday I read what the media and journalists reproduced. Also on social networks. If you are from Real Madrid and want to support your team, you say that Vinicius is a shame. And if you’re not, you say that he/he is a provocateur. The problem is when you interpret racism from certain colors. When you instrumentalize it. Racism, I insist, is a crime. And a huge problem in Spanish football. In addition, it occurs on a daily basis. Racist insults in football are very common, but the media only focus on specific cases. It should end on all football fields. There is a greater awareness of the issue and little by little the feeling is being created that racism is not acceptable. But we have been talking about the subject for more than 20 years and nobody pays attention to us.

And Cos closes: That we have freedom of expression does not allow us to spread hate.

According to the criteria of

The Trust Project

know more


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here