SPANISH sport has been caught up in another racism storm, with this time the abuse moving to basketball.

Disturbing images captured the arrival of the Barcelona team bus at Madrid’s WiZink centre on Tuesday, showing several Madrid fans hurling insults at the Barcelona players. 

Local media reports indicate that Nigerian James Nnaji, 18, was on the receiving end of a torrent of racist abuse from Real Madrid fans.

Barcelona were quick to condemn the ‘racist insults’ and demand action from the authorities.

“Barcelona strongly condemns the racist insults suffered by first-team basketball player James Nnaji before game three of the final,” the team said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The club expects a firm response from the ACB [Spanish basketball league] against any racial or verbal insults.”

Head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius linked the incident to the racist abuse experienced by Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr this season.

Liga Endesa: Fc Barcelona Vs Surne Bilbao Basket
James Nnaji of FC Barcelona during the Liga Endesa match between FC Barcelona and Surne Bilbao Basket at Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona, Spain. (Credit Image: © David Ramirez/DAX via ZUMA Press Wire)

“I want to talk about what happened here with James Nnaji. I think it’s regrettable. 

“I hear a lot about Vinicius, and now it’s us who have to talk about what’s going on. 

“It has to stop now. It doesn’t fit, I guess, with the values of Real Madrid and its supporters, and we have to be very angry about that.”

Nnaji went on to play a pivotal role in Barcelona’s victory, contributing significantly during his eight minutes and 35 seconds of gameplay in the final. 

Barcelona secured a 93-82 win over Real Madrid, clinching their 20th Spanish league title.

The abuse endured by Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr, 23, in recent months, has brought the issue of racism in Spanish society into the spotlight.

He was subjected to monkey chants during his team’s defeat to Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium in Spain’s La Liga earlier in May.

The incident was reported as a hate crime and led to three arrests.

But sadly it was just the latest in a series of incidents around Spain from opposition supporters.

Much of the anguish over the issue has revolved around a professed lack of understanding by certain offenders between general verbal abuse and racist abuse, with some claiming that Vinicius ‘provokes’ the racist abuse he receives.


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