Racism in Spain and La Liga – was Vinicius Jr’s case unusual?



Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr has called La Liga and Spain racist after receiving racial slurs from the stands in Sunday’s defeat at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium.

Spain is not alone in suffering from racism in its stadiums.

Racism has been a long-running problem in Italian football, where authorities have also been criticised for not taking sufficient action. In April, 171 Juventus fans were given stadium bans for chanting racist abuse at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku during a Coppa Italia semi-final earlier that month.

France national team players, including star forward Kylian Mbappe, were racially abused online after they lost the World Cup final to Argentina, and England’s Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were similarly abused after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

The following are some of the most significant episodes involving racism in recent Spanish football:

APRIL 2000

Malaga’s Dario Silva faced battery charges after punching an Oviedo fan who had allegedly hurled anti-Black slurs at him when the Uruguayan striker declined to sign autographs.

NOVEMBER 2004

During a Spain-England friendly at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, England’s Andy Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe and Shaun Wright-Phillips were subjected to racist chants imitating monkey noises by Spanish fans. FIFA imposed a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,498.59) on the Spanish football federation RFEF.

NOVEMBER 2004

Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o received a yellow card after lobbing a ball at Getafe fans following monkey noises from the stands. The Cameroonian would go on to celebrate some of his goals that season by making ape-like gestures parodying the racist chants.

MARCH 2005

Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope punched an “ultra” fan from his own club, Malaga, after a small group hurled racist slurs at him and made monkey noises following a match against Real Betis.

APRIL 2005

A banana was flung at Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium.

FEBRUARY 2006

Barca’s Eto’o threatened to leave the pitch in protest against racist chants at Real Zaragoza’s La Romareda stadium, though ultimately stayed on. The club was fined 9,000 euros ($9,907.20).

APRIL 2014

Barcelona defender Dani Alves had a banana thrown at him as he was about to take a corner kick at Villarreal’s El Madrigal stadium. Alves peeled the fruit and took a bite. A 26-year-old man was later arrested and charged with a “breach of fundamental rights and civil liberties”, fined 6,000 euros and banned from attending football matches for two years. Villarreal were also fined 12,000 euros.

AUGUST 2016

Referee Carlos Clos temporarily suspended a match between Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao after racist chants against Bilbao striker Inaki Williams. RFEF’s Competition Committee ordered the partial closure of one of the stadium’s stands.

DECEMBER 2019

A second-division match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete became the first to be cancelled because of offensive chants directed at players. Left-wing Rayo ultras had called Albacete’s Roman Zozulya – a white Ukrainian striker – a “nazi”. La Liga backed the referee’s decision saying it was “against all racism and xenophobia” in football.

JANUARY 2020

Racist chants against Bilbao’s Williams at Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat stadium sparked the first xenophobic hate crime trial in Spanish football, with only one fan indicted. Prosecutors are seeking two years in prison, a fine and a stadium ban for him in the ongoing trial.

APRIL 2021

Valencia’s Mouctar Diakhaby said rival player Juan Cala cast racist insults at him at the Ramon de Carranza stadium in Cadiz. The entire Valencia squad left the pitch for a few minutes but later returned without the French defender to avoid a penalty. La Liga later said it had found no evidence Cala directed racist language at Diakhaby.

JANUARY 2023

Spanish police launched a hate crime investigation after an effigy wearing Vinicius Jr’s No. 20 shirt was hung from a bridge in front of Real Madrid’s training ground ahead next to a banner in Atletico Madrid’s red and white colours that read “Madrid hates Real”.

FEBRUARY 2023

La Liga filed a legal complaint after Vinicius Jr was racially abused by Real Mallorca supporters. In response, Mallorca withdrew a fan’s membership card for three years.





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