Spain amid racism debate after Real Madrid forward faces abuse

Spain opened a fierce and sensitive debate on racism after thousands of football fans chanted racist slurs at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr at a LaLiga match Sunday.

Sunday’s incident is the latest in a series involving the Brazilian star this season. Police have already arrested three people aged between 18 and 21, police said in a statement.

“The first thing is to acknowledge that we have a problem in our country – behaviour, education, racism,” Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), said at a press conference on Monday.

Rubiales also backed Vinicius Jr and strongly condemned the abusers.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Valencia said it had launched a criminal investigation into whether the insults could constitute a hate crime, the prosecutor of the Valencia office, Susana Gisbert, said on Monday.

The Valencian community government is still working on viewing videos from the Mestalla stadium where the alleged incident occurred on Sunday, its delegate, Pilar Bernabe, said, noting that three of the alleged perpetrators had been identified.

The government also condemned the insults, noting that such behaviour “does not go unpunished” as they”are prosecuted and punished,” the government’s spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez (PSOE/S&D) said on Tuesday, Levante reported.

Vinicius Jr commented on the incident after the Match, saying that where he comes from, Spain is viewed as a racist country and that LaLiga “belongs to racists.”

“It is not possible to be neutral” when confronted with this behaviour, Rodr?guez added.

“Real Madrid will not tolerate any more racist insults or incidents against any of our players,” Florentino Perez, the club’s president, told a press conference where he called for reform on how football authorities treat racist abuse cases.

These words were also echoed by Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti who called the protocols relating to racist incidents at stadiums “obsolete.”

“The protocol is obsolete because it should be applied when the bus arrives at the stadium. That’s when the insults started,” Ancelotti told a press conference.

(Fernando Heller EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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