Los Blancos, led by Florentino Pérez, turned the match against Rayo into a massive act of support for the Brazilian, in a fight against racism.
The Santiago Bernabéu stadium witnessed an outpouring of support for Vinicius on Wednesday, before, and during the match against Rayo Vallecano. Real Madrid fans displayed a club banner which said “Vinícius is all of us, enough is enough”, condemning racism and demonstrating their unwavering backing of the player. The climax of this solidarity occurred at the 20th minute of the game, matching that of Vinicius’ shirt number, when the entire stadium erupted in chants of his name and slogans denouncing the abuse, to which the player responded, waving from his seat in the ground.
Madrid increase public support of Vinicius
Los Blancos decided to transform the encounter with Rayo Vallecano into an act of redress following the continuous stream of insults directed at Vinicius throughout the season, with the vitriol reaching its peak during the recent clash at Mestalla.
Vinicius, the central figure in this narrative, was present in the stadium but not on the pitch. The Brazilian player, having been rested by Ancelotti due to stress, attended the game as a spectator. Alongside his teammates, Vinicius watched the match, although club president Florentino Pérez personally extended an invitation for him to receive the adoration of all Madridistas from the stadium’s exclusive box.
Florentino recognised that Vinicius’ tribulations transcend the realm of football, as the 22-year-old finds himself in a foreign land, and believed he deserves unwavering support during this challenging period.
Real Madrid contend that the animosity directed at Vinicius has been exacerbated by collective complacency. On Monday, the police apprehended the four individuals involved in the regrettable incident from last January, during which a black doll donning a Vinicius shirt was found hanging from a bridge near Valdebebas. Notably, three of the detained individuals have previously been associated with Atlético ultras and possess criminal records.
The timing of these arrests is far from coincidental, and it is worth mentioning that both LaLiga and the Federation have recently intensified their campaigns against racism, likely in response to stern reprimands from FIFA, who were deeply disturbed by the events in Valencia. Madrid posits that the ordeal endured by Vinicius could have been curtailed had all institutions, including the Prosecutor’s Office, fulfilled their responsibilities and exhibited greater determination in combating hate crimes.
Support from the world of football as Spain finally takes action
The whole world has come together to support Vinicius in this difficult time, including FC Barcelona winger Raphinha, who was seen wearing a vest with a message aimed at his compatriot. The Christ the Redeemer statue had its lights turned off in an act of national support for Vini Jr after he suffered the racist abuse. Since the incident, Valencia have been ordered to close their Mario Kempes Stand of the Mestalla Stadium and have been ordered to pay close to $50,000 in fines. The red card the player received has also been overturned.
League president, Javier Tebas, has apologised after he started an online spat with the player in the immediate aftermath of the incident, saying We have tried to explain to you what LaLiga is and what it can do in cases of racism, but you have not shown up to either of the two agreed dates that you yourself requested. Before criticising and insulting LaLiga, you need to inform yourself properly Vinícius… Don’t let yourself be manipulated and make sure you understand the work we have been doing together.”