REAL MADRID star Vinicius Jr was targeted by mindless and vile racists. This has to stop.
There can be no place for this in our game — in Spain, Switzerland, Sardinia or Swansea.
But perhaps the most concerning aspect of all this has been the response from the Spanish football authorities.
OK, while maybe you cannot physically stop the odd imbecile shouting abuse to anyone about anything — although you should try very hard — the events at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium were not one or two fans, from what I have seen.
It was a sustained act committed by lots of so-called supporters directed at a player for one simple reason — because he is black.
Brazilian Vinicius should not have to put up with that in his day job and neither should anyone else.
It is totally unacceptable in any job to be subjected to vile racist abuse at work, so why is football any different?
You would assume the Spanish authorities would have come down very hard on Valencia and the culprits.
We have CCTV cameras inside all our stadium nowadays and to pinpoint the perpetrators should be straightforward.
True, arrests have been made, so we shall see where that goes.
But the punishment to Valencia was this — a £39,000 fine and partial closure of the Mestalla for five games, specifically the Mario Kempes stand where the racist abuse was centred.
Am I alone in thinking . . . what? A fine of less than £40,000 won’t exactly cause Valencia, one of the biggest clubs in Spain, any difficulty.
And what about the message this sends out to other racists keen to jump on this particular vile bandwagon?
It’s like giving a parking ticket to billionaire Bill Gates. As for a partial closure of the ground, a fat lot of good that will do.
The next time these morons attend a game, do you think they will ponder for one second: ‘Oh, we’d better not do this because it could lead to a fine and closure of my favourite viewing point’.
So the response from the authorities in Spain was risible — but what about Valencia Football Club.
They made all the usual sounds about condemning racism, then announced they would APPEAL against the punishment as they felt it was out of proportion and unjustified.
Let’s get this right, a section of your fanbase targets one of the world’s great players on the basis that he is black with disgusting racial abuse.
You then receive a derisory punishment and your response in the Valencia boardroom is to complain. Unbelievably, they called it “totally unfair”.
This is so ridiculous, so appalling, you could not make it up. And is probably why the club has a racist problem to start with.
We have made great strides in English football to rid ourselves of the curse of racism and that’s because it is no longer tolerated.
Football doesn’t want it, fans don’t want it, players and managers don’t want it and we are fighting a battle every day to make sure black players are not targeted for racist abuse.
Our clubs have shown that they will not accept it.
But, in Spain, it appears a footballing genius like Vinicius has to put up with it. Not in 2023 he shouldn’t.
Perhaps the saddest part of this whole shocking saga is Vinicius’ own words.
He tweeted after Sunday’s game: “Racism is normal in LaLiga.
“I’m so sad. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi today belongs to racism.”
Many of the leading players across Europe have backed the Brazilian star, as have his Real team-mates, and well done to them for doing so.
But my point is this — they simply shouldn’t have to.
It is up to football and football’s authorities to clean this up, not individuals like Vinicius.
From what I have seen and heard in Spain, there is precious little or no appetite to do so.