Racism is not a football challenge, it is a world-wide infraction that will not stop tomorrow. The incident that happened at the Mestalla on Sunday to Vinicius Junior is not an isolated event. Samuel Eto’o famously wanted to walk off the pitch. This, I believe, can become a part of the solution.
In the match between Valencia and Real Madrid on Sunday, there were seven black players on the pitch when Vinicius was allegedly racially abused. If all seven-Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Antonio Rudiger, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchoameni, Vinicius Junior, and Justin Kluivert, all walked off the pitch, the referee would have been forced by football guidelines to discontinue the game.
The Valencia squad contains at least six black players-Yunus Musah, Thierry Correia, Ilaix Moriba, Mouctar Diakhaby, Samuel Dias Lino, and Dimitri Foulquier. The question they will be pondering is why? If they were on the opposing side, then they would have been bombarded by the monkey chants that serenaded Vinicius when he was sent off at the end of the match.
But like Vinicius said in his post match interview that, “It wasn’t the first time…”, and it is also accurate to add that it would not be the last. How can countries tame this monster? Definitely not by toeing the line of Javier Tebas, the head of the Spanish league federation, who replied blithely to Vinicius by speaking in tongues. Tebas made sure not to address the log in his eyes and tried to pass the buck to Vinicius. Did the monkey chants happen? Yes, they did. Has the RFU apologised on behalf of the league to Vinicius and all black players? No!
“It wasn’t the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga,” Vinicius revealed in an outraged but calm note. “The competition thinks it’s normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it. I’m so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists.
“A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world. I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defense. I agree. But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if [it’s] far from here.” Just like La Liga lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi; one of the best in the next generation of football players has issued a veiled threat of his thoughts concerning his future, which he revealed may not be in Spain.
Instead of beating down the fire and the hurt that Vinicius feels in the moment, Tebas has shown himself as an agitator and a leader without an iota of empathy. His reply on twitter demeaned the monster (because he wants to hide the facts) and the truth staring us in the face and baring its fangs. “Since those who should not explain to you what it is and what it can do @LaLiga in cases of racism, we have tried to explain it to you, but you have not shown up for either of the two agreed dates that you requested yourself.
“Before criticising and insulting @LaLiga, it is necessary that you inform yourself properly @Vinijr. Do not let yourself be manipulated and make sure you fully understand each other’s competencies and the work we have been doing together.”
If the world will make any headway in the fight, then the game as a spectacle has to be reduced by every racist incident. Eto’o said, “We play for the fans. It is right that some decisions are shared. It is a way to make them responsible and start a dialogue.”
Unfortunately, Tebas seems to have found an equal in Vinicius, who replied, “Once again, instead of criticising racists, the president of La Liga appears on social media to attack me. As much as you talk and pretend not to read, the image of your championship is shaken. See the responses to your posts and have a surprise…
“Omitting yourself only makes you equal to racists. I’m not your friend to talk about racism. I want actions and punishments. Hashtag doesn’t move me,” Vinicius concluded.
Vinicius’ manager Carlo Ancelotti was not interested in discussing the 1-0 defeat. “Stop the match. For me, it’s to stop the match. It’s clear that this can’t go on, it’s impossible. He is the player who receives the most fouls and the most insults.”
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The dialogue has to be multi-dimensional, one not restricted to just football. It is a human dereliction that will not be properly discussed because some nations and some peoples believe they are better than others. As long as this unhinged and unintelligent thought persists, the issue of racism will be one we have to live with.
The economics support the inference. The Brazilian league cannot afford the mammoth €400,577 Vinicius is paid weekly in Madrid thus as long as his phone chimes on Fridays, the Brazilian will be expected to suck it up and accept whatever bashing Spanish [racist] supporters decide to unleash on his psyche.
Though Darren Lewis, an assistant editor at The Mirror believes that, “When players like Vinicius Junior decide not to [continue] playing, football will sort itself out.”
When black players are ready to change the narrative, they will come together and get it started. Until then we will all, supposedly, continue to watch and support our teams, through racism and all.
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