LaLiga president Javier Tebas’ full apology to Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior: what did he say?
Madrid’s Brazilian winger was once again the target of racist abuse during Madrid’s LaLiga defeat to Valencia at Mestalla.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has issued an apology to Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior, who was once again the victim of racist abuse in his team’s defeat to Valencia at the weekend. The Brazilian identified and attempted to confront a fan who he heard - and saw - insulting him at Mestalla, which led to the game being stopped for several minutes. He was later sent off for his part in an on-field melee, although the red card was later rescinded.
Following the game, Vinícius laid into LaLiga on social media, criticising the league for not doing enough to stamp racism out after being the victim of such abuse on a number of occasions. “Racism is normal in LaLiga. The competition thinks it is normal, the federation thinks it is normal and the opponents encourage it,” was the Brazilian’s hard-hitting message.
Vinícius and Tebas’ Twitter war of words
A back-and-forth Twitter spat with Tebas followed, with the LaLiga chief telling the player to “inform himself” about the work his organisation had been doing. A furious Vinícius then accused Tebas of attacking him “instead of criticising the racists”, saying that “ignoring it only makes you the same as the racists”.
Tebas final retort on Monday again saw him defend LaLiga: “Neither Spain nor LaLiga is racist. It is very unfair to say that. At LaLiga, we do everything we possibly can to report and tackle racism. More than 200 black players at 42 clubs are shown respect and affection from the fans on every matchday, and racism is extremely rare”.
Tebas speaks to ESPN Brasil
Tebas opted to speak to ESPN Brasil to issue his apology, in which he once more defended his organisation. He claimed that his message and intentions had been misinterpreted, in which case he “had to apologise”, while saying that he himself wasn’t racist having championed Vinícius as Spanish soccer’s ‘next big thing’ following Lionel Messi’s departure.
Javier Tebas’ full apology to Vinícius Júnior
“I think that a lot of people, especially in Brazil, didn’t understand the message I was trying to get across and my intentions. I wasn’t trying to attack Vinícius, but if that’s how the majority of people interpreted it, then I need to apologise. That was never my intention. I expressed myself badly at a bad moment…But it wasn’t my intention to attack Vinícius, just to clarify the situation, because Vinícius recorded a video to say he backed how LaLiga had acted.
“If I hurt someone, and they think I’m racist, then that’s far from the truth. As I said before, we reported people (who were being racist) and we did it because we don’t want racism in football. And on top of that, we don’t want racist abuse directed at a player who is going to be, and who is, a world-class talent, like Vinicius”, Tebas continued.
“And I said this a long time ago. After Vinicius had a not-so-brilliant first season and Lionel Messi left Barcelona, I was asked in an interview, who was going to be ‘star’ of those who stayed in Spain, and I said Vinicius. I’m not saying it now. For me, Vinicius is an asset to Real Madrid and to Spanish football, and we want him with us.
“I feel sorry for what happened, and that’s why we reported it. And we didn’t just report it: we took special action during his games. We spoke with clubs in an attempt to provide more security, to identify the fans. LaLiga takes care of Vinicius. And if the tweet was misunderstood, I have to apologise”, he concluded.