Vinicius Junior in the Premier League – 05/26/2023 – Marina Izidro
The revolt with the racism suffered by Vinicius Junior gained global repercussions a few days ago, but the subject is not recent here in England. For months now, the English sports press has followed and denounced the persecution of the Brazilian star.
We’ve been following every official communiqué repudiating racism here from a distance, but only on paper; every time LaLiga has excused itself from responsibility; the unbelievable attempts to place the blame on the victim, while the systematic hunt for him continued, with scenes and words so inhumane that it gives chills just to remember.
After the fateful match against Valencia and the player’s statement that he “would go all the way against racists, even if far from here“, opening up the possibility of leaving Real Madrid, it is consensus to think that, in an eventual departure, the most likely alternative would be the Premier League – due to the level of football and the financial side. Sports journalists in the country say that English clubs should queue up to try to hire him.
Undoubtedly, the fight against racism in sport in England does not compare to Spain’s leniency. It is not perfect, of course, but it is recognized that the problem exists and there are practical actions by the league, the English FA, the police and the government, uniting punishment and education.
Just to name a few cases: in 2019, Manchester United banned indefinitely an individual who uttered racial slurs at Old Trafford against Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. In the same year, Chelsea used videos and lip reading as evidence to ban for life from their stadium a man who offended Raheem Sterling in a match against Manchester City. This year, following a police investigation, a man who sent racist messages on Instagram to Brentford’s Ivan Toney was banned from any stadium in the UK for three years.
And because of the attacks suffered on social networks by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the last Eurocopa final, in which England lost to Italy on penalties, the government tightened the laws, and anyone who commits racism on the internet can be banned from stadiums for up to ten years.
It is impossible to know if Vinicius would be completely safe in the Premier League. Cases of racism still happen and, in general, around the world, punishments for fans and clubs are light. But I think he would be more protected by the system here than in Spain.
Five years ago, I was at the Santiago Bernabéu on the day of the Brazilian’s presentation to Real Madrid. Polite, he insisted on learning enough Spanish to say that, among several clubs, he had chosen the “biggest.” He was always smiling and visibly delighted. With the purity of an 18-year-old who had just made a dream come true, he said that being alongside players he only saw on TV and in video games was something “inexplicable.”
Now, unintentionally, Vinicius has become a symbol of the fight against racism in sport. He would have no obligation to take a stand, but he embraced the cause. He has plenty of talent and courage. Perhaps the authorities have finally heard their pleas for help and hopefully this is an opportunity for change after decades of inertia in Spanish football. We’ll see.
It would be great for the Premier League to have him. At the same time, it would be sad if that was the reason he left the club he loves so much, as it would mean the racists won.
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