In a show of support and condemnation against racism, former Barcelona and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has made his voice heard after Vinicius Junior, a talented young footballer, experienced racial abuse at the Mestalla Stadium during a recent La Liga match.
The incident, which occurred during Real Madrid’s game against Valencia, sparked chaos tainted by racial slurs.
Disturbingly, this incident marked the tenth reported case of racist abuse targeting the Brazilian forward during a La Liga match since 2021, as reported by CNN.
Pepe Reina’s response serves as a poignant reminder of the need to confront and eradicate racism from the beautiful game of football.
According to CNN, the racial incident on May 21 was the 10th reported incident of racist abuse aimed at the Brazilian forward during a La Liga match since 2021.
In a space of four days, the police have made seven arrests, prompting Spain’s Football Federation (RFEF) to initiate a fresh anti-racism campaign and impose a partial stadium closure at Valencia.
Additionally, La Liga officially advocated for the granting of sanctioning powers to enhance the fight against racism amid a global outpouring of support for Vini Jr.
However, veteran Spanish goalie, Pepe believes the 22-year-old is partly to be blamed for the spike in racist attacks he has suffered since 2021.
“Vinícius? The less you provoke the rival fans and the less you protest to the referee, the more respect you will have from everyone,” Pepe said, as quoted by Madrid Xtra.
Pepe’s advice for Vinicius Jr
The 40-year-old also offered guidance to Vini, who has undeniably been Real Madrid’s standout player this season:
“He’s becoming one of the best in the world, but I think he must mature in behaviour and have more respect for his rivals.”
At the age of 40, Reina joins an esteemed group of footballers who have amassed over a thousand career appearances, a list that includes renowned names such as Xavi Hernandez, Iker Casillas, and Roberto Carlos, This Is Anfield reports.
Vini blasts La Liga
Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Vini has lambasted La Liga authorities, after releasing a new statement citing the various times he has had to battle racist abuse in the league.
The 22-year-old Brazilian received sympathy from stakeholders around the globe when he was subjected to more racism during Real Madrid’s La Liga tie with Valencia on May 21.
Vini revealed he had even received death threats across various cities in Spain, also claiming the authorities in the European country had done nothing to address these issues.