Refs aren’t punishing opponents for fouls

Vinicius Junior said referees are failing to adequately punish opponents for fouling him, after the winger scored — but was also yellow carded himself — in Real Madrid’s 3-1 comeback win over Espanyol in LaLiga.

Espanyol went ahead through Joselu in the eighth minute at the Bernabeu on Saturday, before Vinicius equalised and Eder Militao‘s header put Madrid in front, before substitute Marco Asensio scored a third goal in added time.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Vinicius has scored 19 goals in all competitions for Madrid this season but has been targeted by opposition defenders trying to impact his performances.

“Referees don’t give fouls and they don’t give yellow cards,” Vinicius told ESPN. “Players can foul me 15 times and, in the end, when the game is in the 88th minute, the referee gives a yellow card.

“Players have to think of a way to stop me, and, by doing that [committing fouls and not being punished], it becomes very easy for them. I don’t judge the players, but I judge the referees, because they have to apply the rules correctly.”

Vinicius is the most fouled player in LaLiga this season, having been fouled 89 times — well ahead of second-placed Isi Palazon of Rayo Vallecano with 66 — but has been shown eight yellow cards himself, often for complaining about his treatment by opponents.

“I’m not asking for anyone to protect me,” he said. “Nobody has protected me in my life, except my teammates, my parents and the people that like me… What I have to do is to try to keep a clear head.

“Obviously, I make mistakes sometimes, I’m only 22 years old. I’ll make a lot of mistakes. But I want to make fewer mistakes and try to keep learning.”

Vinicius has suffered racist abuse from fans on multiple occasions this season and has criticised football authorities in Spain, saying they are not acting to tackle the issue.

“I wish it could be brought to an end,” he told ESPN. “I wish I didn’t have to talk about it every time I do an interview. But it’s a very difficult subject.

“Maybe some people who suffer racism aren’t as calm as I am, and don’t have the support I do. It can affect people a lot, but you have to keep a clear head.”

Real Madrid’s win over Espanyol left them six points behind leaders Barcelona at the top of the LaLiga table, ahead of Barca’s game at Athletic Club on Sunday.