On Tuesday afternoon, the Spanish Football Federation’s Competition Committee (CC) met to discuss Sunday’s match between Valencia and Real Madrid, where Vinicius Junior suffered shocking racist abuse.
The CC is a technically independent body that rules on punishments and disciplinary action at various levels of the Spanish game. It is made up of three members; one appointed by the Spanish FA, one by La Liga, and one by the Consejo Superior de Deportes, a governmental body.
Its president and “sole competition judge” is a Spanish lawyer, Carmen Perez, who is the Spanish FA’s appointee.
Their meeting took several hours longer than usual. By late evening, its report was ready to be published. Valencia were hit with a partial stadium ban for five matches and a fine of €45,000 (£39,100; $48,500). The red card shown to Vinicius Jr at the end of Sunday’s game was also rescinded.
These were the top lines — but within the report’s pages, there was more key detail about exactly what happened. Here is what it said.
The decision to partially shut Valencia’s ground
The CC report detailed how before kick-off, as Real Madrid’s players got off their team bus at the gates of Valencia’s Mestalla stadium, “hundreds of fans who were stationed in the surroundings” chanted: “You are a monkey… Vinicius you are a monkey.”
It went on to detail the severity and regularity of further racist chanting directed at Vinicius Jr during the match.
The night Vinicius Jr decided enough is enough – he now doubts his Real Madrid future
The referee’s report from Sunday only made mention of one example of this happening. This was in the 73rd minute when referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea stopped the match and an announcement was made over the public address system — part of an anti-racism protocol.
As captured by TV cameras, Vinicius Jr confronted fans who were in a stand behind one of the goals, pointing to them and accusing them of racially abusing him.
“You, you, you’re the one who called me a monkey,” he appeared to be saying, as players from both sides gathered on the scene. He made a gesture as if to say they’d been calling him a monkey or making monkey noises towards him.
The CC report mirrors De Burgos Bengoetxea’s version of events, but it also details further insults that were directed at Vinicius Jr between this point and the end of the match. Without quantifying how many individuals were involved, or what part of the stadium it came from, they cite supporters as shouting or chanting:
- ‘F*cking black you’re an idiot’
- ‘I sh*t on your dead (family) son of a b*tch’
- ‘Vinicius idiot’
- ‘F*cking black son of a b*tch’
- ‘Vinicius dog… son of a b*tch’
- ‘Monkey you are a f*cking monkey’
“The Competition Committee has sanctioned Valencia CF with the partial closure of the Mestalla stadium for five matches,” the report said.
The stand that will be closed is the south stand, named after ex-Argentina international Mario Kempes.
Valencia have also been fined €45,000. This is the highest financial penalty imposed on a Spanish football club following racist abuse at a ground.
Valencia almost immediately announced that they would appeal against the stadium closure, adding in a statement: “Valencia CF wishes to show its total disagreement and indignation at the unfair and disproportionate penalty imposed by the Competition Committee on the club.”
The decision to rescind Vinicius Jr’s red card
The CC report also describes how monkey chants were heard throughout the game and that after Vinicius Jr was sent off in the 90th minute, there was a “general chant throughout the stands of ‘monkey, monkey’.”
Vinicius Jr was shown the red card after some pushing and shoving between multiple players on both sides in injury time. De Burgos Bengoetxea initially showed Vinicius Jr the yellow card.
After he was instructed to review the footage, the VAR provided images of Vinicius Jr raising his hand towards Hugo Duro’s face. It did not show how the Valencia forward had put his arm around the Brazilian’s neck just before.
Real Madrid, as part of a body of evidence they presented for this report, characterised Vinicius Jr’s actions in this way, according to the CC: “In a desperate attempt to get the rival player’s arm off his neck, given the imminent risk of asphyxiation, (he) instinctively pulls the rival player off him.”
The CC report said that because VAR footage did not show this physical confrontation in its entirety, the referee had since requested that Vinicius Jr’s sending-off be rescinded.
The CC report said that as the referee had been “deprived of a decisive part of the facts”, it had been “impossible for him to properly assess what had occurred”.
On Monday night, it emerged that Iglesias Villanueva, the match official who was in charge of the VAR team for Sunday’s fixture, would be removed from taking up the role again following a decision by the Spanish FA and its technical refereeing committee.
Vinicius Jr is now free to play in Real Madrid’s final matches of the season. The red card would have seen him suspended for two of their three remaining games.
Vinicius Jr will not face Rayo Vallecano despite rescinded red card
However, the Brazilian is not expected to play in Wednesday’s home meeting with Rayo Vallecano because of a knee problem that also makes him a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Sevilla.
Former player Alberto Edjogo-Owono spoke on The Athletic Football Podcast about his experiences of racism in Spanish football, how it made him feel and what should be done to eradicate it. Here is a section of his discussion with Mark Chapman and Dermot Corrigan…
“If you want to play football in Spain, you have to assume that these things could happen. So you are prepared. You are ready and you are educated, focused on that. That could happen.
“My father always said, ‘OK, guys, If you want to play football, you have to assume that this can happen. So you have to be 120 per cent stronger. You have to be 100 per cent more consistent’.
“But what Vinicius has reached, for me, it’s a breaking event.”
(Top photo: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)