On Tuesday, about 100 Brazilian supporters gathered in front of the Spanish consulate in Sao Paulo to express their solidarity with Vinícius Júnior, the Real Madrid striker who has faced repeated racism in Spain’s La Liga.
The demonstrators shouted slogans such as “La Liga is racist” and “Stop racism in Spain and in Brazil” for an hour. They also displayed signs and stickers that said “Vini Jr, I am with you.” They projected the message “It is not soccer, it is racism” on the walls of the consulate. Some even lit flares.
Vinícius has been a frequent target of racist insults and chants by fans of rival teams since he joined Real Madrid five years ago. He has endured racist abuse by supporters of at least five different clubs since the start of the Spanish league season in September.
The situation escalated last Sunday when Vinícius was racially abused by Valencia fans at the Mestalla stadium. The 22-year-old forward confronted the crowd, before being shown a red card by the referee.
Real Madrid filed a complaint with the Spanish prosecutor’s office, accusing the insults of being a “hate crime” against their Brazilian player.
Vinícius has also posted several videos and messages on social media highlighting the various instances of racism he has suffered at the hands of rival fans.
Claudia Rodrigues, 51, a former Brazilian soccer player and one of the organisers of the protest, said they wanted to send a message to the Spanish government that they need to take action.
“Vini acted as a warrior, a Brazilian man that honours our ancestors,” Rodrigues said. “Vini is facing racism in Europe. Regardless of financiers, sponsors, it is very important for our society and very important for young Black people, who look at them as heroes.”
Spanish police have arrested seven people in connection with racist incidents involving Vinícius. Three were detained in Valencia for alleged abuse against Vinícius after Sunday’s game. Four were arrested in Madrid for allegedly hanging an effigy of Vinícius from a motorway bridge in January.
Representatives of several Brazilian Black movements read aloud a statement supporting the 22-year-old soccer star. Drivers honked and chanted against La Liga from their cars.
The statement said Vinicius faced aggression “of the Spanish far-right that oppresses Blacks” and “Vini Jr makes us proud.”
“We will be standing next to him, with clenched fists and our heads high up.”
Spanish soccer authorities also fined Valencia €45,000 and closed part of their stadium for the next five games.