The racist insults to Vinicius have become a diplomatic case between Brazil and Spain

The racist insults to Vinicius have become a diplomatic case between Brazil and Spain

During the Valencia-Real Madrid match on 21 May, some Valencian fans insulted the Blancos striker. Institutional protests have come from Brasilia: the Spanish ambassador to the country has been summoned by the foreign minister. Lula's intervention

"Today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists." He thinks so Vinicius Jr, victim of a serious episode of discrimination, Brazilian football and politics think so. Despite being the umpteenth incident involving the Carioca striker, the umpteenth in the world of football, the novelty is that the events of Valencia-Real Madrid on 21 May put diplomatic relations between his native country, Brazil, and the country where he plays, Spain, in crisis.

With 20 minutes left in the match, Vinicius refuses to continue playing. After protesting an unsportsmanlike play, he is bombarded with repeated racial abuse from Valencia fans. He stops, demands that those responsible be removed, indicates them. He is comforted by Carlo Ancelotti, his coach, by the Blancos goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. "He called me monkey," he tells the referee. Then, after ten minutes of interruption, the game resumed, but with it the chants. At the end of the game Vinicius loses his mind and gets expelled in the development of a fight and comes out in the midst of the insults of the home fans.

"Racism is now customary in La Liga. But I'm strong and I'll go all the way," the Brazilian forward comments bitterly, also supported by the words of Ancelotti ("The whole stadium shouted 'monkey' at him. They started insulting him from the first minute. I think La Liga has a very serious problem in this sense"). Despite the defense of Valencia and the upper echelons of the championship, the bomb exploded on the other side of the Atlantic.

At the G7 in Japan, Lula intervened in the matter. "It's not fair that a kid who is having success is insulted in every stadium," comments the Brazilian president. The Christ of Rio is extinguished in protest. The Spanish ambassador in Brasilia is summoned by the Carioca foreign minister, who says he is "extremely dissatisfied" in a statement. For the Minister of Human Rights "the behavior of the Spanish authorities and the Football Federation backs racism", while that of Justice announces the possibility for the executive to "take justice into its own hands" using the principle of extraterritoriality which provides for the possibility, in cases exceptions, to apply the Brazilian law also abroad to protect one of its citizens. A sort of threat to the Spanish authorities: "If you don't do it – the Minister of Justice seems to suggest – we will take care of it".

In Madrid the message arrives. The Valencia prosecutor's office, after the complaint of Real and the Spanish footballers' union, opened a file against unknown persons for hate crimes, while three young people were arrested on suspicion of having addressed racist insults to Vinicius. "There must be no place for hatred and xenophobia in our football or in our society", defends the Spanish president, Pedro Sanchez, while the foreign minister of his cabinet adds: "Spain repudiates racism and our government will dispel any doubts about this." In the meantime, the Spanish football federation has ordered the closure of the Mestalla sector involved in the sporting-diplomatic incident. Valencia has announced an appeal. From the football field to the political one, the story is destined to have long aftermath.

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