The United States is the last country that has joined the international condemnations for the case of the Real Madrid footballer, Vinícius Junior, against whom racist chants were directed last Sunday at the Valencia stadium, described as “terrible” by the spokesman for the US Department of State, Matthew Miller.
The Administration of President Joe Biden, which recently signed a declaration with Brazil on joint action against racial and ethnic discrimination, condemns “racism throughout the country, throughout the world, wherever it occurs, including in sport” .
Precisely, the first government that raised its voice about what happened and that has taken more actions is that of Brazil, whose president expressed his solidarity with Vinícius – “possibly one of the best players in the world”, in the words of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva-, nothing more and nothing less than at the G7 summit held in Japan. Before the largest economies in the world, he denounced that the player “was called a ‘monkey’.” “It is not possible, in the 21st century, to have such a strong racial prejudice in so many football stadiums. It is unfair that a poor boy who has done so well in life is insulted in every stadium in which he plays ”.
Brazil’s diplomatic offensive
“It is important that FIFA, the Spanish League, the leagues of other countries take action, because we cannot allow fascism and racism to settle inside soccer stadiums,” he added in his appearance at the end of the summit.
Since then, several of his ministers have taken action on the matter, such as Sports, which asked to “take into account the seriousness of the events” because Vinícius is “another unacceptable episode in Spain.” “The Brazilian Government regrets that, for the moment, no effective measures have been taken to prevent these racist acts from being repeated”, for which reason it asked the Spanish Executive and the sports authorities to take all measures to punish the culprits and prevent them from these events are repeated.
The Ministry of Justice had even threatened to apply the principle of extraterritoriality, an action that Brazil was contemplating in case there was an “omission” on the part of the Spanish authorities when prosecuting those who insulted Vinícius. The head of Justice, Flávio Dino, ruled out that possibility after the arrests this week in relation to the case, but did not stop mentioning it. in a telematic meeting with the European Commissioner for the Interior, Ylva Johansson.
The Brazilian Ministry of Racial Equality has also taken sides and has made a joint statement with the Spanish Ministry of Equality, in which they express “their unconditional solidarity with Vini Jr., as well as with all athletes, professional or non-professional.” , who experience racist violence in sports every day”. In the textissued two days after the insults to the Brazilian player, the Ministries affirm that “racist, sexist and fascist attitudes inside and outside the soccer fields are intolerable in a democracy” and recall that the Governments of Spain and Brazil have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the promotion of racial equality and the fight against racism, racial discrimination and other related forms of intolerance.
This Wednesday, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira, declared before a parliamentary committee that Brazil and Spain maintain “permanent contact” to find formulas to end racism in sport. According to the Foreign Minister, in recent days he has spoken by telephone about the matter with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, who has denied that Spain is a racist country and has repudiated what happened, which does not reflect “the characteristics of Spanish society”.
Albares has stated from Valencia that “Spain is a tolerant country, the vast majority of Spanish society is tolerant and anti-racist. For many years it has been a country of emigration and it naturally welcomes those who come here”. In some statements, collected by Europa Press, he has defended that in Spain “there is a system perfectly designed to act in these cases and it is acting quickly”.
International institutions look towards Spain
Although the action of the Spanish authorities has been welcome, the accident in Mestalla has set off all the alarms of the international community. The UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, has stressed that Spain’s reaction has been “energetic”, with rapid arrests of alleged perpetrators of the insults, but has asked the organizers of sporting events to launch “strategies to avoid racism in sport”, according to the EFE Agency.
“Much more is needed to eradicate racial discrimination, and it must start with listening to people of African descent, involving them and taking real steps to address their main concerns,” he said at a press conference in Geneva.
Türk has even linked the attacks on Vinícius to the murder of George Floyd three years ago in the US, noting that “it is clear that the problem of police brutality against people of African descent will not be solved until we deal with the broader problem of systematic demonstrations.” of racism that permeate every aspect of our lives.” On his Twitter accounthas paid tribute to Floyd and has taken the opportunity to launch a message against hate and all forms of discrimination.
The Vice President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, has also shown through this social network his “full support” for the Brazilian player, stressing that “in our society there is no place for racism – on or off the field of play”. Schinas He has written that “the European sports model must serve as a compass to fight against discrimination wherever and whenever it rears its head”.
The Greek commissioner mentioned a tweet by Vini Jr. with a photo of the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, who turned off his lights in solidarity with the footballer, who said he was “excited” by this symbolic gesture, which has gone around the world.
For its part, the Council of Europe platform that promotes the protection of journalism has issued an alert for the harassment of the Spanish sports journalist María Morán, after having asked the Real Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti, if Vinícius deserved a red card. .
The journalist had already filed a complaint with the National Police comments, insults and threats received on social networks and now it receives the support of the European institution, whose mission is to alert the Council of Europe, so that it can take measures when necessary, while seeking to identify trends and propose political responses to promote press freedom. Based on the alerts issued, Member States must act and address the issues, and subsequently report back to the platform.
The NGO Amnesty International (AI) has also ruled this Thursday on the Vinícius case and racism in Spain: “something is failing when the latest data indicates the upward trend of racist and xenophobic regulations, practices and behaviors in recent years, and We still do not have a clear commitment to fight against racism and discrimination in all its manifestations and in all areas”.
“Hopefully, on this occasion, Spanish society will get rid of the prevailing hypocrisy and face reality, its prejudices and discriminatory stereotypes,” wishes the organization it’s a statement. “Only admitting that there is racism and xenophobia in Spain -beginning with the recognition by the authorities of institutional racism- (…) will it be demonstrated if there is real political will to carry out a thorough review of legislation, policies and practices says AI.