Spanish football’s racism towards Vinicius branded ‘disgusting’ by Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has branded Spanish football’s racism problem “disgusting” as the fallout from the abuse of Real Madrid and Brazil star Vinicius Jr continues.
The 22-year-old’s future in LaLiga has been plunged into doubt after becoming the centre of a furious row that has highlighted a toxic element in one of Europe’s top competitions.
Vinicius was barracked with monkey chants for the latest time this season at Valencia on Sunday, prompting him to declare that LaLiga “now belongs to racists”.
Real Madrid reported the incident as a hate crime, while the head of Spain’s football federation, the RFEF, conceded that the country had a racism problem.
But LaLiga president Javier Tebas has been panned for his response, which included accusing Vinicius of “slander”, while Valencia have protested against sanctions that they have incurred.
“It is a disgusting situation. It is so bad that it looks like it is going to force change. I am hoping there will be something positive to come from it,” said Southgate.
The England manager has been a vocal advocate for more anti-discrimination initiatives and supported his players’ desire to take the knee before games, despite hostility.
He has also seen how racism manifests in English football, notably through social media trolling targeted at Three Lions players such as Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford.
“If anyone suggests to me we don’t have a problem in society with racism then there is another example of what we are dealing with, and more examples of people burying their heads in the sand, quite frankly,” Southgate added.
“Hopefully it is a story that doesn’t just disappear in 24-48 hours without there being some significant change.”
Vinicius has called for LaLiga to issue sporting sanctions to clubs for instances of racism, while the league’s bosses have asked for more powers to take action.
The RFEF on Tuesday overturned the red card shown to Vinicius in stoppage time of his side’s 1-0 defeat at Valencia, in which he was abused from the terraces, and punished Valencia with a five-game partial stadium closure and fine.
The club were quick to hit back and voice their “total disagreement and indignation at the unfair and disproportionate penalty”.
Valencia coach Ruben Baraja backed that stance on Wednesday, adding: “Just as a player rightly fights back against insults and I support that with all my might, we as a club and a fanbase rebel against those who, during the days since the game, have accused us of being what we are not.”