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Soccer-Infantino offers support to Vinicius Jr after racism row

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(Reuters) – Soccer governing body FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino expressed his support for Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr after he called LaLiga and Spain “racist” after receiving racial slurs from fans in Sunday’s game at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.

Vinicius Jr pointed out the fans who were insulting him, leading to the match being paused for 10 minutes, and then got into an altercation with Valencia’s players which led to him being sent off in the second half. Real lost the game 1-0.

The Brazil international later took to Twitter to express his frustration, saying “racism is normal in LaLiga” and describing Spain as a “racist country”.

“Full solidarity to Vinicius. There is no place for racism in football or in society and FIFA stands by all players who have found themselves in such a situation,” Infantino said in a statement.

“Events during the match between Valencia and Real Madrid show that this needs to be the case. That is why the three-step process exists in FIFA competitions and it is recommended at all levels of football.

“Firstly, you stop the match, you announce it. Secondly, the players leave the pitch and the speaker announces that if the attacks continue, the match will be suspended. The match restarts, and then, thirdly, if the attacks continue, the match will stop and the three points will go to the opponent.”

Infantino added that the steps to stop racism need to be supported through education.

Vincius Jr received a wave of support after the incident, including from Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.

LaLiga has previously lodged complaints of racist chanting or insults against Vinicius Jr, the latest of which was a claim before a court in Mallorca after fans were filmed racially abusing the forward.

Spanish police are also investigating a possible hate crime against Vinicius Jr after a mannequin wearing his number 20 shirt was hung from a bridge outside Real Madrid’s training ground in January.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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