Within two seasons, Real Madrid’s Brazilian star Vinicius Jr. became one of the best strikers in the world, but he became – against his will – a key figure in the fight against racism in Spanish football.
“Black and majestic,” the young player commented – yesterday, Tuesday – on the image of the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro, without spotlights, as an expression of support for the rising star, “but I hope above all to shed light on our struggle.”
🚨🇧🇷 The Cristo Redentor lights in Rio de Janeiro has been turned OFF tonight in solidarity with Vinícius Jr. pic.twitter.com/5cxR4QiuKe
– Madrid Xtra (@MadridXtra) May 22, 2023
With his dribbling dribbling and daring speed, Vinicius José Paíchao de Oliveira Junior succeeded in becoming “the most effective player in the world”, according to his Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti, winning the hearts of his club’s fans.
But his easy manipulation of the ball does not appeal to many. In every match, the opposing team’s fans try to destabilize it by various means, and sometimes they dare the worst, by racist insults.
And last Sunday, Vinicius – the 22-year-old – fell victim to insults of all verbal calibers, especially racism, during his team’s loss at Valencia in the 35th stage of the Spanish League. Events that made headlines in Spain, where the frequency of racist cases in stadiums increased several years ago, without real penalties being taken against the perpetrators.
Before becoming a symbol of the fight against racism, Vinicius – who first rose to prominence in Brazil – asked a lot of ink because of his football talent.
Vinny was born in the city of São Gonçalo, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and his talent exploded early, becoming at the age of 16 the youngest player to carry the colors of Flamengo Club.
And Real Madrid included him in 2018 for $ 50 million, so he arrived surrounded by the aura of Brazilian players looking for glory on the European continent.
After 3 seasons in which he was satisfied with scoring 14 goals in 118 appearances, Vinny hit hard during the 2021-2022 season, scoring 22 goals, including the winning goal against Liverpool, which awarded the royal club the Champions League title for the 14th time in its history. In the current season, his goal tally has reached number 23.
And his colleague Dani Carvajal said last May that the player, “When he arrived, he was under terrible pressure. But to rise to one of the top 3 or 4 players in the world despite all the pressure, that’s a rarity.
“Vinicius is the victim”
The Brazilian deafened his ears, despite criticism from his team’s fans or even fellow French striker Karim Benzema, and continued to work in silence. During his rise, the course of criticism turned to the masses of his opponents, multiplying and reaching the point of insults.
This season, the League filed 8 complaints in racist incidents towards the Brazilian, and none of them resulted in criminal penalties.
Vinicius Jr started crying after being shouted “Vinicius, die.” pic.twitter.com/TpKe8eBN3V
— 2.0 (@Abhi63449719) May 22, 2023
Vinicius raised his voice on several occasions, denouncing the inaction of the competent authorities, which put him in a fierce confrontation with Spanish football officials, especially League President Javier Tebas.
And his coach, Ancelotti, defended him, “I hear sometimes that Vinicius is a provocateur, and about his behavior. both. Let it be clear: Vinicius is the victim, not the culprit.
For people saying that Vinicius Jr ‘provokes’ the fans and that results in them saying racist things to him…
Have you quickly forgot what happened to Rudiger when he was GIFTING his T-shirt to a fan?
This was less than 10 days ago… No excuses.pic.twitter.com/CvnfCqI7K4
– Reyi (@Reinaldodcg9) May 22, 2023
Starting with “No Khoigo Mas” (I will never play) said by Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o in 2006, to the banana that Brazilian Dani Alves gnawed after throwing it at him in 2014, Spain suffers from the scourge of racism in its stadiums without taking decisive measures.
But today, Vinicius’ reaction may play the role of a detonator in detonating a racist issue that has sparked reprehensible reactions around the world.