18 Apr, 2024 @ 11:49
2 mins read

Spain’s racism problem in football is laid bare: British star Jude Bellingham says black players ‘almost get used to being abused’ while playing in the country – following string of recent incidents

His comments came in a press conference ahead of Real Madrid's win on penalties over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final second leg
Vinícius Júnior of Real Madrid and Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid celebrates their teams victory after the UEFA Champions League semi final return leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester England 900/Cordon Press

REAL Madrid and England star Jude Bellingham has called on football’s authorities ‘to do more’ to tackle racism in the sport amid a string of recent high-profile incidents in Spain.

The Birmingham-born midfielder’s comments come just weeks after his Real Madrid teammate Vinicius Jr broke down in tears at a pre-match press conference as he admitted he is ‘losing the desire to play football’ thanks to repetitive racist abuse he has suffered since moving to Spain.

La Liga side Real Mallorca have also launched an investigation after a fan appeared to make a racist gesture towards Los Blancos midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni on Saturday, whilst a leading TV pundit was sacked last week after aiming a ‘racist joke’ at Barcelona’s 16-year old prodigy Lamine Yamal live on air.

Bellingham, who was speaking at a press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League quarter final between Real Madrid and Manchester City, which the Spanish side won on penalties, said: “In the games where we go away, in La Liga especially, you almost get so used to it that I wasn’t aware of the incident, which is a massive problem in itself”.

He added: “It’s a horrible way for a player to prepare for a game knowing that they’re probably going to get racially abused. It’s disgusting. It shouldn’t happen. The people in power need to do more, especially with Vini in recent weeks – well, years actually”. 

READ MORE: Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior says he is ‘losing desire to play football’ in Spain due to racist abuse

Vinicius Jr broke down in tears last month as he reflected on his experience of racism whilst playing football in Spain. Credit: Cordon Press

“The game would miss players like Vini if he decided to take a break because of this. More needs to be done to support these players. The people in charge need to take control. I doubt it will happen”. 

In March, Real filed a complaint with the Spanish legal authorities after videos emerged on social media of Atletico Madrid fans chanting a racist slur aimed at the Brazilian forward.

Last year, Valencia were given a partial stadium ban for five matches and fined €45,000 last year after Vinicius was subjected to monkey chants.

In May 2023, four men were arrested in Madrid after an effigy of the player was hung from a bridge over a busy motorway.

On Tuesday, videos on social media showed Barcelona fans telling Vinicius to ‘kill himself’ ahead of their crunch Champions League quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint Germain, which they lost 4-1. 

READ MORE: La Liga’s Vox-voting boss insists Spain is ‘NOT racist’, despite rising abuse inside football grounds

Ex-fascist and current La Liga president Javier Tebas has previously criticised Vinicius Jr. Credit: Cordon Press

However, the 23-year old has previously come in for criticism from quarters of Spanish society after he said La Liga, Spain’s top division, ‘belongs to racists’, and ‘in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists’.

La Liga president Javier Tebas, who voted for far-right Vox in 2019 and has admitted to being a member of the fascist Fuerza Nueva in the 1980s, said Spain has ‘a lot less racism than in any other country’ as incidents do not happen ‘all the time’ and ‘are mainly focused on Vinicius’.

Vinicius’ teammate, right-back Dani Carvajal, likewise claimed this week that ‘Spain is not a racist country’.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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