Vinícius in tears over racism: ‘I just want to play football’

Brazil‘s Vinícius Júnior broke down in tears at Monday’s news conference as he admitted he has “less will to play” because of racist abuse directed toward him in Spain.

The Real Madrid forward, however, said he is not considering leaving LaLiga despite the racist chants he has heard by opposing fans since he arrived at Madrid more than five years ago.

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“I’ve been here for a long time watching this and I feel more and more sad,” Vinícius said. “I have less and less will to play. With each complaint made I feel worse, but I have to appear here and show my face.

“I have asked for help from UEFA, FIFA, CONMEBOL, CBF — they can fight against that. The problem that exists in Spain is that racism is not a crime.”

Vinícius spoke in Madrid ahead of Brazil’s international friendly against Spain, a game organised by the two federations to raise awareness of racism.

“I am sure that Spain is not a racist country, but there are many racists and many of them are in the stadiums,” he said. “We have to change because many of them don’t know what racism is. At 23 years old I have to teach many Spaniards what racism is.”

Vinícius has been a leading voice in the fight against racism. Last year the Vinícius Júnior law was passed in Brazil to combat racism at sporting events.

“Playing football is important, but the fight against racism is very important,” he said. “Let people of colour have a normal life. If this were the case, I would go to my club’s games focused only on playing. The only thing I want is to continue playing and for everyone to have a normal life.

“Of course, because there are so many people in football, so many better players than me that have passed through here, and I want to make sure that people in the world can evolve and improve. And that we can have equality.

“That in the very near future we can have fewer cases of racism, and that Black people can have a normal life like everyone else. I want to keep fighting for that. Even because, as I said before, if it was just for me, I would have given up, because I stay at home, where no one will swear at me, I go to the games with my head centred on the game so that I can do the best for my team.

“It’s not always possible, so I have to concentrate hard every day,” he added before breaking down in tears and getting the applause of people at the news conference.

Vinícius then spoke about the media’s approach to reporting on the abuse he has suffered.

“I think they have to talk less about everything I do wrong on the pitch, that of course I have to evolve and improve, but I’m only 23 and it’s a natural process,” he said. “I left Brazil very young and haven’t been able to learn many things. I’m studying. I’m 23 and I’m still studying. Why can’t they, the reporters here, who are older than me, study and see what’s really going on? I’m getting sadder and sadder, I feel less and less like playing. But I’m going to keep fighting.

“Above all, I get [strength] from my family, from the fans and from those people who give me messages of encouragement to continue fighting for those who need it.”

LaLiga has filed numerous complaints in Spanish courts over alleged racist and hate insults directed at Vinícius, but many have been shelved.

Arrests have been made by Spanish police regarding racist episodes over the past year.

“The lack of punishment is what frustrates me the most, that nothing happens to all those people that do that,” Vinícius said.

Vinícius, who has a contract with Real Madrid until June 2027, is determined to continue playing in Spain.

“I have never thought about leaving LaLiga because otherwise I would give the racists what they want,” he said.

“I am going to continue in the best club in the world, scoring many goals so that they continue to see me. Racists are a minority. As I am a daring player, who plays for Madrid and we win many titles, it is very complicated. I’m going to continue because the president supports me, the club supports me and I’m going to continue to win many things.”

Brazil coach Dorival Júnior encouraged the courts in Spain to take action.

“It was a very difficult and complicated moment for a youngster who is starting his career, being attacked as he has been in the last few months. Maybe years. What happens is cowardly. I’m sorry, but there’s no other definition,” he said on Monday. “This is a fact that happens daily also in our country and that we need a collective effort from everyone.

“Human beings need to respect each other and situations of this type on football pitches are unacceptable.

“If there was an exemplary punishment, things would probably change.”

The Spanish government has highlighted the work of a permanent committee set up to fight violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sports. The committee, which includes the Spanish league, government authorities and the football federation, has previously punished clubs with fines and issued stadium bans, as well as keeping fans from attending matches for long periods and making them pay hefty fines.