Vinicius believes targeting, racist abuse has reached critical stage
Vinicius Junior believes the atmosphere around him with the Real Madrid forward being targeted by opposition players and fans has reached a critical stage, sources close to the player have told ESPN.
The Brazil international was caught up in a running battle with Real Mallorca’s players during Madrid’s 1-0 LaLiga defeat on Sunday, after clashing with defenders Antonio Raillo and Pablo Maffeo in the two previous meetings between the sides.
Vinicius has also been subjected to racist abuse on several occasions this season — including by a fan during the Mallorca game — and it is the lack of punishment for the perpetrators that concerns him most, sources told ESPN.
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People close to Vinicius believe that referees and parts of the Spanish media have played a decisive role in creating an atmosphere of tension around the forward.
Vinicius was fouled 10 times during the Mallorca loss — more than in any other game this season — and clashed with both Raillo and Maffeo.
After the game, the forward’s private complaints were focused more on the lack of protection he received from referee Alejandro Hernandez than the behavior of his opponents.
Sources close to the Real Madrid dressing room told ESPN that Vinicius has been affected by the racist insults he has received in stadiums — away at Real Valladolid and Atletico Madrid, as well as Mallorca — this season.
LaLiga issued a statement on Monday describing the Mallorca incident as “intolerable” and saying that they will launch an investigation into racist fan abuse suffered by Vinicius. The league has also set up an email address, StopRacismo@laliga.es, for fans to help report racist incidents.
Ahead of Real Madrid’s game with Atletico in the Copa del Rey two weeks ago, a mannequin wearing a Vinicius shirt was hung from a bridge near Madrid’s training ground.
Mallorca captain Raillo said that Vinicius was not a suitable role model for children ahead of Sunday’s game.
“If I had to pick a role model for my children tomorrow, I’d maybe choose [Luka] Modric or [Karim] Benzema, but never him,” Raillo said.
Vinicius is unhappy with the way the media has dealt with these issues, sources said, focusing on him, rather than those responsible for targeting him.
“Everything that’s happening isn’t Vinicius’ fault,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Sunday. “The only thing that Vinicius wants to do is play football. Opponents put pressure on him, provoke him, foul him… I think the focus has to change.”
ESPN’s Alex Kirkland contributed to this report.