- Valencia’s victory against Real Madrid marred by racism against Vini Jr, with the match being paused for nine minutes.
- Defender Gabriel Paulista praises Mestalla’s atmosphere amidst the controversy, leading to further backlash.
- Potential three-game suspension for Vini Jr may affect Real Madrid’s race for a direct spot in the Champions League group stage.
In an incident that’s becoming a disturbing trend in football, Real Madrid striker Vini Jr found himself the target of racial slurs during the team’s clash against Valencia at Mestalla.
However, the reaction of Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista, an individual not directly involved in this incident, has ignited additional controversy surrounding the match.
While Valencia managed a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid, the triumph was undoubtedly eclipsed by the racial slurs hurled at Vini Jr. during the game, which led to the match being halted for nine minutes.
The Brazilian striker received an outpouring of support from clubs, football personalities, and even opponent Mouctar Diakhaby.
In the midst of the controversy, Gabriel, who was suspended due to a red card in the previous round against Celta de Vigo, used his social media to praise the atmosphere at Mestalla.
He responded to a fan’s post in defence of the Valencia fans, denying the shouts of “mono” – monkey in Spanish – and asserting that the word sung by the fans was “tonto”, meaning fool.
“My post was for the victory and today the fans were fundamental, because we really needed to get out of the relegation zone,” said the former Arsenal defender.
Looking back, there has been an ongoing tension between Gabriel and Vini Jr. In a previous match between the two sides in February at the Santiago Bernabéu, Gabriel was sent off for a hard challenge on Vini Jr.
This time, it was the Real Madrid striker who was expelled after a scuffle during stoppage time, potentially leading to a three-game suspension, as he was punished for reacting to the racism once again sent his way.
Should his suspension be confirmed, Real Madrid will face the last rounds of La Liga without their striking powerhouse, impacting their race for a direct spot in the Champions League group stage.
With Atlético de Madrid having overtaken them in the table, Carlo Ancelotti’s team needs to secure at least four points out of the nine left to claim a spot.
While Valencia managed to escape the pull of the relegation zone with their victory, the enduring racism incident against Vini Jr. raises a pressing concern for football worldwide.
The fallout surrounding Gabriel Paulista’s comments is a stark reminder of the pressing need to address and eradicate such behaviour in football.