Atlético Madrid fans have chanted racial slurs at Real Madrid striker Vinícius Júnior ahead of the Madrid derby on Sunday night.
A large number of fans outside the Cívitas Metropolitano stadium chanted, “Vinícius is a monkey”, as they made their way to the stadium. Monkey chants could also be heard the first time the Brazilian touched the ball.
The abuse follows a video of Vinícius in which he responded to criticism of his allegedly provocative way of playing and celebrating goals by speaking out against the racism he felt he was subjected to. What was initially an almost entirely fabricated debate had built up all week and eventually, with depressing inevitability, ended in racist abuse eclipsing the derby.
After a clash with opponents Real Mallorca last weekend, a debate has been sparked over Vinícius. Football agent Pedro Bravo, a guest on a Spanish TV show Chringuito, referred to Vinícius “walking around” and asked him to quit dancing at the “Sambadrome”.
Bravo later apologized, saying he used the phrase “figuratively”, but as the clip went viral, support for Vinícius arrived: from Neymar, Dani Alves, even Pelé. Vinícius spoke: “They say that happiness annoys people. Well, the happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe, much more.
The dance, he said, is not just his, but belongs to many players – including Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann – to funk and samba artists, reggaeton and black Americans – and he wasn’t going to stop. Real Madrid also released a statement to defend their player and reject racism.
Atlético Madrid captain Koke was asked about the likely reaction if the Brazilian scores and, as usual, celebrates the goal with a dance. Koke responded by saying there would be a “lio for sure” [trouble, or a mess]. Unfortunately, he was right.
After the match kicked off, Rodrygo sent Real Madrid in front and celebrated with his fellow Brazilian. Federico Valverde added a second after 36 minutes to give Real a 2-0 half-time lead.