Vinicius Jr was sent off in Real Madrid’s match at Valencia (Getty Images)
Brazil and Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr. has been tasked with leading a special player-run Fifa anti-racism committee. The committee will look to advocate for more stringent punishments for any displays of racism within football, a long overdue need.
Vinicius Jr, arguably the face of LaLiga, recently came under attack when he experienced chants from Valenica’s fans in May during a 1-0 away defeat at the Mestalla. The incident accounted for the ninth time the 22-year-old star had reported racial abuse this LaLiga campaign alone.
Support around the world came in for the Brazilian star who blasted the Spanish league after the events that unfolded.
Vini Jr. made his feelings clear about his experience so far in LaLiga stating that he believed racism like he experienced at the Mestalla had become “normal” all around the top flight. The Brazilian didn’t hold back in expressing his thoughts, stating that in Brazil, Spain is regarded as a country of racists.
Javier Tebas, LaLiga’s president, didn’t take kindly to Vinicius’ criticism of Spain. The Costa Rican-born Tebas failed to reinforce support for the abused star, criticising the Brazilian’s reaction to the terrible events.
Although LaLiga has had extreme numbers of incidents with racist fan behaviour over the past year, the issues extend beyond Spain. Joelinton, a fellow Brazilian and Newcastle United midfielder, recently revealed that he had his own experience with racism following Newcastle’s defeat to Arsenal.
The newly created committee is an important step in the right direction and, at the very least, demonstrates that Fifa is no longer willing to passively observe their players suffer with no consequences.
Gianni Infantino, Fifa’s president, spoke with the Brazilian national team in Barcelona encouraging the players that football will no longer deal with racism and stated to Reuters: “There will be no more football with racism in it. The games should be stopped immediately when it happens. Enough is enough.”
Infantino stressed the importance of not just punishing fans within the scope of football but expanding the punishments beyond the stadium and pursuing legal action. The president continued: “An act of racism is a criminal act… From now on, Fifa will take legal actions with local authorities too, we will join complaints filed in local justice.”
Football has no room for racism and incidents such as Vinicius’ should not have to occur to move the needle. However, the appointment of a player like Vinicius to lead the new committee, who has personally experienced racism in football at its most extreme, brings hope for creating a safer environment for players all around the world.