Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday that the abuse directed at his player Vinicius Jr is a problem for the whole of Spanish football, not for the 22-year-old Brazilian.
Vinicius was subjest to racial abuses from RCD Mallorca fans on Sunday during an ill-tempered match in which the Brazilian was fouled 10 times, the most for any player in La Liga this season.
Vinicius has been subjected to racism by fans on at least three other occasions and is the most fouled player in Europe’s top seven leagues by a big margin.
“It seems that the problem is Vinicius, and it is not like that. It is a problem of Spanish football and it must be solved,” Ancelotti told a news conference in Rabat on Tuesday, on the eve of Real Madrid’s Club World Cup semi-final against Egypt’s Al Ahly.
“The question I ask is this: Is it Vinicius or his teammates? What do his teammates have to defend Vinicius from? Vinicius is the victim of something that I don’t understand.”
Supporters in Mallorca could be heard racially insulting the player in a video published by streaming company DAZN on social media on Sunday.
Spanish police are also investigating a possible hate crime against the Brazilian after a mannequin wearing his No. 20 shirt was hung from a bridge in front of the club’s training centre ahead of the Madrid derby two weeks ago.
The mannequin was hung by the neck next to a banner in Atletico Madrid’s red and white colours that read “Madrid hates Real” during the early hours of January 26, police said.
The league also started its own investigation to identify individuals involved in the Mallorca game.
“To speed up the identification process, La Liga has set up an email address StopRacismo@laliga.es so that fans who may have photos or some indication of the identity of the perpetrator can contact La Liga and provide the necessary identification in order to file the relevant charges,” a statement from La Liga read.
“La Liga strongly condemns the events and, as on previous occasions, will file the necessary charges and will continue to fight, to the best of its ability, against any type of racist act, behaviour or incident.”
In September, prosecutors in Madrid decided not to press charges over racist chanting aimed at Vinicius after finding it had “lasted a few seconds” and had not constituted a crime.
Pele, Neymar and other leading Brazilian figures defended Vinicius in September after a panellist on a Spanish football show compared his goal celebrations to that of a monkey, sparking an immediate backlash on social media.
Vinicius issued a video statement at the time in response to what he called a “xenophobic and racist” insult, saying he “won’t stop dancing” and that “the happiness of a black Brazilian being successful in Europe bothers” many people.
In December, the player accused La Liga of continuing to do nothing about racist fans at matches, after videos on social media showed some shouting abuse and throwing objects at him during a match the previous day in Valladolid.
“On the issue of racism, I think that is people that are bitter with their own lives who go in the stands and try to pay for their frustrations with a 22-year-old kid. You have to have respect for other people,” Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde told a news conference on Tuesday.
“When a player is fouled a lot it’s part of football, but we as teammates have to defend him,” he added.
(with inputs from Reuters)