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FIFA sets up anti-racism task force involving Vinicius

June 16, 2023

Brazilian soccer player Vinicius Junior has agreed to join a new task force to tackle racism in football. The Real Madrid star was recently racially abused during a La Liga match with Valencia.

Brazil and Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior
Vinicius Junior agreed to joint the new FIFA anti-racism task forceImage: Manuel Reino Berengui/DeFodi Images/picture alliance/dpa

Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior will play a "prominent role" in a new anti-racism task force, the world football governing body, FIFA, said on Thursday.

FIFA "would set up a task force to make specific recommendations, with Vinicius Junior taking a prominent role," the governing body said in a statement.

Racial incidents: Next time we must stop the match says FIFA

Vinicius, who is Black, was racially abused by Valencia fans in May in an incident which provoked worldwide outrage.

"It's very important not just to talk about racism and discrimination, but to take action in a decisive and convincing manner — zero tolerance," FIFA president Gianni Infantino wrote in an Instagram post. "FIFA is together with the Brazilian Football Confederation and with all the players in this fight. It's important to introduce sporting sanctions and I congratulate CBF for having done so already."

"There is no football if there is racism!" the FIFA president continued. "So let’s stop the games. The referees have this opportunity in FIFA competitions as we have this process for stopping the game, and actions have to be taken at every level, at national level as well. Everyone has to understand this and we will go, together, until the end."

Vinicius has been subjected to racial abuse on numerous occasions over the last two years, with little to no action being taken.

It was only after the 10th reported incident of racist abuse aimed at the wide player since 2021, during last month's La Liga match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium, that Spanish football and the country finally decided to take action.

Seven arrests were made by police in wake of the incident and Spain’s football federation (RFEF) launched an anti-racism campaign while ordering the partial closure of Valencia’s stadium.

Racism scandal in Spanish soccer

Vinicius speaks up

Vinicius spoke to reporters for the first time since he was racially abused in Valencia last month. He thanked everyone who supported him. "Everyone has been giving me strength so I can continue in this battle," he said.

"Infantino came today to show his support and asked me for advice on which players I think should be on the committee FIFA is creating. I think it's important and necessary, I embrace it," Vinicius added.

Supporters found guilty of abusing Vinicius were issued stadium bans and fines by Spanish authorities last week.

Worldwide problem

Infantino stressed that measures should be taken globally to eradicate racial  discrimination in football.

"Unfortunately, racism is not a problem that exists only in Spain. It exists in many, many other countries. That is why we need to take collective measures to fight against it all over the world," Infantino said.

FIFA already created an anti-racism task force in 2013 after a notorious incident of abuse suffered in Italy by AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is Black.

Boateng worked with the task force which FIFA shut down in 2016, months after Infantino was elected. FIFA said then the task force had "completely fulfilled its temporary mission."

dh/jsi (AP, AFP, Reuters)