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Brazilian Vinícius Júnior becomes a symbol of the fight against racism

Brazilian Vinícius Júnior becomes a symbol of the fight against racism

One of the most lethal strikers on the field, Vinícius Júnior, from Real Madridhas become a symbol of the fight against racism that also has an impact outside the pitch.

The 22-year-old Brazilian has garnered global support after being the target of racist abuse last Sunday at the Mestalla stadium in the Spanish city of Valencia.

Vini did not hesitate to stand up to Valencia fans who called him a “monkey”, before writing on social media after the match that “racism is normal in LaLiga”.

The player published several messages condemning the continuous insults he receives, attracting international attention to his allegations.

The rise of Vinícius Júnior in the last two seasons has been meteoric, living up to the expectations generated since he was hired in 2018, from Flamengo, for 46 million euros (R$ 164 million, at the time quotation).

Born in São Gonçalo, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Vinícius José Paixão de Oliveira Júnior soon stood out as a young talent who combined rare skill with explosive speed, which made him the youngest player at that time to debut in the professional team of the club from Rio de Janeiro, at the age of 16.

Real Madrid went in search of his signing, reaching an agreement in 2017 for his future presentation the following year, taking into account the successful arrival of Neymar to Barcelona in 2013.

When Meringue star Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus after the 2018 World Cup, Vini became the natural name to fill that void, but the then 18-year-old Brazilian was slow to find consistency.

With just 14 goals in 118 games in the first three seasons, the attacker’s low performance in finishing became a joke among rival fans.

But, in the 2021/2022 season, with the return of veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti at the helm of Real Madrid, Vinícius drastically improved his performance, with 22 goals, including the one that won the Champions League title in the final against Liverpool.

The evolution of the Brazilian continued in the current season, in which he already scored 23 times.

“When he arrived here, especially in the first stage, there was tremendous pressure. He was a ‘meme’, who didn’t score goals, who dribbled but didn’t finish… So young to receive such criticism…” recalled his teammate Dani Carvajal , in early May.

“He turned around and is now among the top three or four in the world. It’s something I’ve rarely seen. Everything he’s achieved so far has been deserved,” he added.

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Vinícius’ performance grew, however, accompanied by insults in many stadiums in Spain. The final straw came in Valencia, and Ancelotti called for “drastic measures” against racism.

The Brazilian’s decision to face the fans drew the spotlight around the world on racism in Spanish football, denounced for years by players and anti-racist associations, who believe that the problem was never taken seriously.

Directly held responsible, LaLiga defended itself by claiming that it does not have enough power to apply punishments. The organizer of the Spanish Championship claims to have made eight complaints this season for attacks against Vinícius that, for the most part, did not generate consequences for the aggressors.

This Tuesday, the Spanish police arrested three young people in Valencia, suspected of uttering racist insults against the Brazilian striker, and four other individuals were arrested in Madrid, suspected of having hung a doll with Vinicius’ shirt on a bridge in the city.

Vinicius Jr. faced rival fans after suffering racism in Valencia. (Photo: José Jordan / AFP)

Racist behavior in Spanish stadiums is nothing new and former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o – a recurring target of insults in the 2000s – had already warned that the wave of prejudice was growing in the country.

“I’m not playing anymore!” Eto’o even declared after being insulted by fans during a game against Zaragoza in 2006.

Years later, in 2014, Brazilian winger Daniel Alves ate a banana thrown onto the field and, more recently, Athletic Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams, of Ghanaian origin, was also the target of racist insults in a game against Espanyol.

But Vinícius’ outburst seems to have triggered an unprecedented wave of reactions.

“Institutions have an opportunity, especially now, to take radical measures on this important issue,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday.

Source: Gazetaesportiva

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