Vinícius Junior will be missed if racism is allowed to drive him out: Real Madrid's Bellingham

AP , Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Jude Bellingham warned on Tuesday that soccer would miss Vinícius Junior if the Real Madrid star was driven out of the sport by racism.

Real Madrid s Jude Bellingham attends a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester,  AP
Real Madrid s Jude Bellingham attends a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, AP

Brazil winger Vinícius has repeatedly been the target of racial abuse from opposition fans and last month said he was losing his desire to carry on playing.

Bellingham said he doubted whether soccer's authorities would be able to stamp out racism in the sport after a Mallorca supporter was caught on camera over the weekend making monkey gestures following a goal from Madrid midfielder Aurelien Tchouaméni.

“The people in power need to do more, especially with Vini in the recent weeks — well, years actually,” Bellingham said ahead of Madrid’s Champions League quarterfinals second-leg match against Manchester City. "I think the blame gets shifted more onto him because of maybe his playing style and the way he likes to express himself and I don’t think that’s fair.

“The game would miss players like Vini if he decided to take a break because of this thing. More needs to be done to support these players.”

Vinícius broke down in tears when speaking last month about the abuse he's been subjected to.

In January last year, an effigy of Vinícius was hung from an overpass near Madrid’s training ground in the Spanish capital. Later that season, he was in tears during a match after confronting a fan who had made monkey gestures toward him.

Bellingham, an England international who joined Madrid from Borussia Dortmund last summer, said such incidents are so common in Spain that he wasn't even aware of the latest incident following Tchouaméni's goal.

“In the games where we go away, in La Liga especially, you almost get so used to it," he said. "That’s a massive problem in itself. More has got to be done, whether it’s the punishment and how you react to it or how you move proactively to this kind of thing. 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.

“It’s definitely a call-out for the people who are in charge to take control. I doubt that will happen. It’s going to be something that I imagine we will still have to just deal with going into games. I think that’s one of those things where you have just got to play your game and hope that the people look after you — and they’re not doing it well enough at the moment.”

Madrid and City go into the second leg at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday with the score tied at 3-3.

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