Soccer-Ancelotti says abuse of Vinicius Jr is problem for all Spanish football

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Quarter Final - Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - January 26, 2023 Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti reacts REUTERS/Susana Vera

RABAT (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday that the abuse that has been directed at his player Vinicius Jr is a problem for the whole of Spanish football, not for the 22-year-old Brazilian.

Vinicius received racist abuse from fans in Mallorca on Sunday during an ill-tempered match in which the Brazilian was fouled 10 times, the most for any player in LaLiga this season.

Vinicius has been subjected to racial abuse by fans on at least three other occasions and is the most fouled player in Europe's top seven leagues by a big margin.

"It seems that the problem is Vinicius, and it is not like that. It is a problem of Spanish football and it must be solved," Ancelotti told a news conference in Rabat on Tuesday, on the eve of Real Madrid's Club World Cup semi-final against Egypt's Al Ahly.

"The question I ask is this: Is it Vinicius or his team mates? What do his team mates have to defend Vinicius from? Vinicius is the victim of something that I don't understand."

Supporters in Mallorca could be heard racially insulting the player in a video published by streaming company DAZN on social media on Sunday.

Spanish police are also investigating a possible hate crime against the Brazilian after a mannequin wearing his No. 20 shirt was hung from a bridge in front of the club's training centre ahead of the Madrid derby two weeks ago.

The mannequin was hung by the neck next to a banner in Atletico Madrid's red and white colours that read "Madrid hates Real" during the early hours of Jan. 26, police said.

In September, prosecutors in Madrid decided not to press charges over racist chanting aimed at Vinicius after finding it had "lasted a few seconds" and had not constituted a crime.

Pele, Neymar and other leading Brazilian figures defended Vinicius in September after a panelist on a Spanish soccer show compared his goal celebrations to that of a monkey, sparking an immediate backlash on social media.

Vinicius issued a video statement at the time in response to what he called a "xenophobic and racist" insult, saying he "won't stop dancing" and that "the happiness of a black Brazilian being successful in Europe bothers" many people.

In December, the player accused LaLiga of continuing to do nothing about racist fans at matches, after videos on social media showed some shouting abuse and throwing objects at him during a match the previous day in Valladolid.

"On the issue of racism, I think that is people that are bitter with their own lives who go in the stands and try to pay for their frustrations with a 22-year-old kid. You have to have respect for other people," Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde told a news conference on Tuesday.

"When a player is fouled a lot it's part of football, but we as teammates have to defend him," he added.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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