Vini Jr. La Liga Racism Controversy
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The Vini Jr. La Liga Racism Controversy refers to a controversial event in which Brazilian soccer player Vini Jr. (Vinicius Júnior) was a victim of racism during a May 2023 match between the Spanish teams Valencia and Real Madrid where some of Valencia's fans shouted racist insults directed at the Brazilian player in the second half of the match, calling him a "monkey." After the event, Vini tweeted that another case of racism in La Liga occurred to him and that the "Championship belongs to racists." The event inspired accusations of racism by the organizers of the Spanish football league La Liga, with an image macro featuring a Ku Klux Klan hood of the organization's logo going viral on social media.
On May 21st, 2023, at Mestalla Stadium, Spain, fans of the football team Valencia repeatedly shouted "mono" (monkey in Spanish) towards the Brazilian player Vini Jr, who tried to alert the referee Ricardo de Burgos where the offenses were coming from. The match between Valencia and Real Madrid (Vini's team) ended with a 1-0 score and Vini Jr was expelled from the field after an altercation involving striker Hugo Duro and provoked by goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili. On May 21st, the Twitter page @desimpedidos posted a video showing the moment the Brazilian spots the Valencia fans who were showing racist slurs at him. The video garnered 113,000 views and 1,600 likes in one day (seen below).
Vini Jr sofreu racismo MAIS UMA VEZ e quem foi expulso? Ele mesmo
Tá se repetindo a cada jogo, mas NADA é feito. Isso tudo só mostra a importância que dão e o (des)preparo quando o assunto é racismopic.twitter.com/ZaVFqOZaKw
— desimpedidos (@desimpedidos) May 21, 2023
After the May 21st, 2023, match, Vini Jr then went to the locker room and did not respond to journalists. On social media, Vinícius vented about the incident (which wasn't the first racist act against him during a match), leaving a message to the Spaniards, stating how Spain is seen in Brazil and what the Spanish Championship has become. The tweet (seen below) received over 908,000 likes and 226,000 retweets in a day.
Translation: "It wasn't the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it's normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it. I'm so sorry. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists. A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world. I'm sorry for the Spaniards who don't agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defense. I agree. But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if far from here."
La Liga's Response
In response to Vini's tweet on May 21st, 2023, the President of La Liga, Javier Tebas, posted on Twitter a statement about the Brazilian striker, saying he (Vini Jr) does not understand the ways in which the association can act to combat racism and mentioned a meeting the striker did not attend to address the issue. He also classified Vini's manifestation as an insult against the league. His tweet (seen below) received over 30,200 likes and 21,600 retweets in a day.
Ya que los que deberían no te explican qué es y qué puede hacer
LaLiga</a> en los casos de racismo, hemos intentado explicártelo nosotros, pero no te has presentado a ninguna de las dos fechas acordadas que tú mismo solicitaste. Antes de criticar e injuriar a <a href="https://twitter.com/LaLiga?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">LaLiga, es necesario… https://t.co/pLCIx1b6hS pic.twitter.com/eHvdd3vJcb
— Javier Tebas Medrano (@Tebasjavier) May 21, 2023
Translation: "Since those who should do not explain what it is and what it can do the league in cases of racism, we have tried to explain it to you, but you have not shown up for either of the two agreed dates that you requested yourself. Before criticizing and insulting the league, it is necessary that you inform yourself adequately. Do not let yourself be manipulated and make sure you fully understand each other's competencies and the work we have been doing together."
Brazil's President Statment
The same day the event occurred, Brazil's current president, Lula da Silva, addressed the subject via Twitter. He demanded that FIFA and other entities take steps to prevent racism from taking over football." The tweet (seen below) garnered over 161,900 likes and 20,200 retweets in a day.
Shortly after the game ended, many people online began criticizing Valencia fans' attitudes for being racist and the referee's ejection of Vini Jr. The lack of a statement and support from La Liga organizers enraged numerous Brazilian fans of the footballer, who started to share an image macro of the championship's logo with a Ku Klux Klan cloak and hood overlayed on top.
The author of the meme is unknown, but one of the earliest usages was posted on May 21st, 2023, by Twitter user @choquei. The image (seen below), was used as a response to the President of La Liga's statement after the controversial event. The post garnered 18,000 likes and 864 retweets in one day.
The controversy was subsequently reported on by numerous media outlets the following day, including the New York Times, G1 and UOL.
 Wikipedia – Real Madrid
 Express – Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr choked and sent off in wild scenes amid fresh racism allegations
 Twitter – @desimpedidos
 Twitter – @Tebasjavier
 NY Times – Vinícius Júnior Says Racism Is ‘Normal’ in Spanish Soccer
 G1 – Real Madrid denuncia crimes de ódio e discriminação contra Vinícius Jr. ao Ministério Público espanhol
 UOL – Presidente da La Liga rebate Vini Jr. após caso de racismo: 'Se informe'
 Twitter – @LulaOficial
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