Vinicius Junior: Javier Tebas insists ‘intent was not to attack’ with tweet, claims league could end racism ‘in months’

Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, has apologised for what he insists was a misinterpreted tweet to Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, saying “my intent was not to attack [him]”, while claiming he would “end racism in stadiums within months” if the league body had more power.

Vinicius was subjected to racist abuse by Valencia fans in a league game on Sunday, an incident that sparked widespread condemnation and a fierce debate around how to handle issues of racism in Spanish football.
The Brazilian said after the game that “La Liga belongs to racists”, a comment Tebas responded to by criticising the 22-year-old for “not informing himself properly”.

La Liga

Vinicius not thinking about leaving Real Madrid despite racist abuse – Ancelotti


The La Liga chief’s comments sparked outrage and Vinicius replied by saying: “Omitting yourself only makes you equal to racists. I’m not your friend to talk about racism.”

Tebas took a softer stance on Wednesday in an interview with ESPN Brasil as he looked to calm the waters by explaining himself.

“I always tell this to my entire work team. When people or an important part of them understand a message in a certain way, then they are right so I have to be sorry because I think my message was not understood, especially in Brazil,” Tebas said.

“So, I have to be sorry because I think my message and the intent with which I wrote it, an important part of it was not understood, especially in Brazil.

“Because my intent was not to attack Vinicius, but rather to clarify that Vinicius just one month ago made a video supporting the actions of La Liga [against racism].”

Real Madrid players wore Vinicius’ No. 20 shirt before their game against Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday in a gesture of support.
Since the incident, the Spanish Football Federation have fined Valencia €45,000 (£39,000) and ordered a partial stadium closure for five games, while the red card Vinicius received in the match where he was abused has been overturned.
There have been several arrests in connection with the abuse, while support for Vinicius has poured in from the likes of Paul Pogba and Raphinha.

Tebas was eager to underline how the structure within Spanish football works and that La Liga doesn’t possess the same punitive powers as the Spanish Football Federation.

“This season, racist insults have been reported nine times. Eight of them have been for insults against Vini. We always identify these maniacs and file a complaint with the relevant bodies. It doesn’t matter how few they are, we are always relentless,” Tebas said.

Southgate – ‘Disgusting’ Vinicius Junior situation should force significant change

“The federation and La Liga are two different entities. We don’t have the authority to expel people from the stadiums; they do. We would take action if we had more authority to sanction and punish offenders. We would close the stadiums, ban the fans, but we only have responsibility from outside the stadium.

“We have filed grievances about racism that ended in just fines. I hope that we can be given the authority to take action.

“Because I think if we had the authority to take measures, we would end racism in the stadiums within months.”

La Liga

Seven arrested in separate incidents following racist abuse of Vinicius Junior


La Liga

Pogba calls for action to tackle racism – ‘Nothing has changed’