In response to Vinicius Jr.’s use of social media to express his outrage about racial epithets he received during a game and the Spanish league’s inaction, LaLiga President Javier Tebas issued an apology on Wednesday.
On Sunday, the match against Valencia was stopped for ten minutes when Brazilian Vinicius Jr, pointed out fans who were insulting him before getting into a fight with Valencia players that resulted in his dismissal.
In an interview with Reuters, Tebas said, “Well, it seems that the result has not been very good, right?,” alluding to his widely lambasted tweets in which he advised Vinicius to learn more about the league’s efforts to eliminate racism “before you criticise and slander LaLiga.”
He added that it was not his aim to criticise Vinicius and blamed “the heat of the moment,” saying, “I mean, to all those who have understood that this was an error due to the form, due to the time… I have to apologise.”
I apologise to Vinicius and to anyone else who thought I was criticising him.
Tebas criticised both the football organisers and the Spanish government, claiming that neither was doing enough to combat racism. Tebas said he shared the 22-year-old’s concern about the lack of action to end racism in Spain. He claimed that he felt “impotent” to address racism in football because, by Spanish legislation, LaLiga is only permitted to identify and report instances of racism.
He called for legislative modifications to enable LaLiga to have sanctioning powers, including as the ability to close stands or expel club members, in order to more effectively combat racism.
Tebas asserted that “if we were given those capabilities, we would end this in a matter of months,” blaming a lack of interest on the part of “those who have the power to impose it”.
Due to Vinicius’ insults, Valencia’s south stand will be partially shuttered for five games, and the club was fined 45,000 euros ($50,000).
Tebas, who claims he has done everything in his power to address the matter, claims that the abuse that occurred on Sunday in Valencia was the tenth instance of suspected racism against Vinicius that LaLiga has referred to prosecutors this season. On Tuesday, in connection with several alleged hate crimes against Vinicius, police detained seven men.