Copy of 2023-05-26T203230Z_1173041637_RC2631A7FJS6_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-BRAZIL-RACISM-1685269586065
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior (centre) gestures towards a fan after witnessing abuse as Valencia's Jose Gaya (right) and Cenk Ozkacar attempt to restrain him. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Racism has no place in the beautiful game. It also does not have a place in society. But, what is disconcerting is the response from the Spanish football authorities following the latest attack on Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr who has become the target of mindless and despicable racists. This kind of behaviour must come to an end.

Sure, it would be difficult to physically prevent fans from hurling abuse, but, every effort has to be made to do so. What occurred at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium last week was not the work of one or two individuals. It was a sustained act perpetrated by a considerable number of so-called supporters, solely because Vinicius is black.

Weak punishment

The Brazilian international should not have to endure such treatment in his profession - and neither should anyone else. It is totally unacceptable for anyone to experience racist abuse at their workplace. A football stadium is no different.

Following the disgusting incident arrests were made, but the true impact remains to be seen. The punishment handed to Valencia was a mere £39,000 fine and the partial closure of the Mestalla for five games, particularly the Mario Kempes stand where the racist abuse was concentrated.

This punishment is utterly inadequate. Valencia are one of Spain’s largest clubs. They can easily pay this, but what message does it send to other racists eager to join this disgusting bandwagon?

The incident has opened a wider debate about the issue of racism in Spain. Of course, racism is a problem everywhere, not just in one specific place but the country is currently in the spotlight for the wrong reason. But if the response from the Spanish authorities was laughable, Valencia’s was far worse. The club first went through the motions of condemning racism only to announce their intention to appeal against the punishment! Astonishingly, they deemed it “totally unfair.” It’s just absurd.

Not tolerated

English football has made significant progress in eradicating the curse of racism. It is no longer tolerated. Fans, players and managers fight against it every day to ensure that black players are not subjected to racist abuse. English clubs have demonstrated that they will not stand for it.

Sadly, it seems that a football genius like Vinicius has to endure it in Spain. After the incident he tweeted, “Racism is normal in LaLiga. I’m so sad. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Messi now belongs to racism.”

Much more meaningful action must be taken by Spain if they wish to kick racism out of football.