‘It's not football, it's La Liga’
Football and beyond rallied around Vinicius Junior on Monday, demanding action against racism, after the Real Madrid star was abused once again in Spain's La Liga.
The 22-year-old Brazilian international forward was targeted by a home supporter during a 1-0 defeat at Valencia on Sunday and was later sent off.
Vinicius, who has frequently been singled out for racial abuse in La Liga, issued a statement afterwards saying that La Liga "belongs to racists" and several Brazilian players past and present offered their support.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the abuse, telling a news conference at the close of the G7 summit in Hiroshima: "He was attacked. He was called a 'monkey'."
Vinicius stood in front of fans behind the goal and pointed to the apparent culprit. Play was delayed for several minutes in the second half.
Referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea spoke to stadium officials, who made an announcement calling for racist insults to stop before play resumed 10 minutes later.
The referee wrote in his post-match report that a fan shouted "monkey, monkey" at the player.
"The Spanish league has a problem, and Vinicius is not the problem. Vinicius is the victim. There's a very serious problem," Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
FIFA reiterated on Monday that stopping matches is permitted as well as players walking off the pitch in their three-step approach when racist abuse takes place.
"Full solidarity to Vinicius," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement. "There is no place for racism in football or in society and FIFA stands by all players who have found themselves in such a situation. Events during the match between Valencia and Real Madrid show that this needs to be the case."
Writing on Instagram, Vinicius said Spain was viewed as "a country of racists" in his homeland.
He said Spain was "a great country. I am sorry for the Spanish people who do not agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists."
"The prize for the racists today is that they have sent me off. It's not football, it's La Liga," he said. "The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Messi now belongs to racists," Vinicius added.
La Liga said they have been "proactive" in previous cases of racism against Vinicius, filing nine complaints with relevant authorities and prosecutors.
La Liga's combative president Javier Tebas hit back on Twitter, claiming Vinicius on two occasions did not turn up for a meeting with the governing body to discuss what it "can do in cases of racism".
"Before you criticise and slander La Liga you need to inform yourself properly," he tweeted.
Vinicius has, though, received widespread support.
"If Vini wants to keep playing, we keep playing, but if Vini says he's not playing any more, I'm leaving the pitch with him, because we cannot tolerate these things," said Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
"You are not alone. We are with you and we support you," PSG striker Mbappe wrote on Instagram.
There was anger among many in Brazil.
President Lula called for FIFA and the Spanish league to take "serious measures". "It's unjust that a poor kid who's done so well in life, who may be on his way to becoming the best in the world -- he's certainly the best at Real Madrid -- gets insulted at every stadium where he plays," he said in Japan.
On Twitter, Brazilian Football Confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues said: "Vini Jr., you have our love and support, and that of all Brazilians."
Real Madrid has lodged a hate crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors over racist chants hurled at Brazilian player.
"Real Madrid C.F. shows its strongest rejection and condemns the events that occurred yesterday against our player Vinicius Jr," it said.
The attacks, in its view, "constitute a hate crime" for which the club has filed a complaint with the State Attorney General's Office, the club said.
Separately, the Movement Against Intolerance (MCI) and the Association of Spanish Soccer Players (AFE) said in a joint statement they had also filed a complaint with the same prosecutor's office, citing racial slurs against the Black player.