Real Madrid secured a 2-1 victory over mid-table Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Wednesday as fans and players showed their support for Vinicius Junior, who was again subjected to racial abuse at the weekend.
“We are all Vinicius. That’s enough” reads a banner displayed behind one of the goals at the Santiago Bernabéu as all the Real players took to the pitch wearing Vinicius number 20 shirts while the captains of both teams wore armbands bearing anti-racist messages.
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Karim Benzema put Real ahead just after the half-hour mark when he collected a pass on the edge of the penalty area and scored from close range before Rayo striker Raul de Tomas equalized six minutes from the start. But Rodrygo restored Real Madrid’s lead before the final whistle.
Real Madrid striker Vinicius was racially abused during a 1-0 loss to Valencia on Sunday.
Clad in street clothes and visibly agitated, Vinicius joined his teammates on the field to a standing ovation after all the players stood next to LaLiga’s official banner titled “Racists, Out of Football”.
He was not part of Real Madrid’s squad for the match despite the red card he received in Valencia on Tuesday being overturned and his subsequent suspension lifted.
Los Amo!!! GRACIAS, GRACIAS Y GRACIAS! ✊🏿🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/HsoCUB4l5I
– Vinnie Jr. (@vinijr) May 24, 2023
Spanish media reported that a knee injury forced Vinicius to miss pre-match training, and he watched the match sitting next to club president Florentino Perez.
“I was surprised by the decision [RFEF’s] “I think it was the right decision,” coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference.
He added that the partial stop closure imposed on Valencia as punishment was an important step forward.
“We hope this issue will be resolved soon,” Ancelotti said. “The players around Vinicius feel very touched. Everyone knows what’s going on. Our society is full of smart people, especially in Spain.
“When smart people make decisions, things get resolved sooner.”
Many Real Madrid fans came to the stadium wearing the Brazilian’s shirt and scarf, to send a clear message that they are unhappy with the abuse he is being subjected to in stadiums around Spain.
One poster held by a young fan said, “Vinnie, it’s my company. Seeing you is my gift.”
Benzema put the hosts ahead just after the half-hour mark when he latched on to a Federico Valverde cross on the edge of the penalty area and finished in from close range.
Rayo striker De Tomas equalized six minutes from time, but Rodrigo restored Real’s lead in the 89th minute, beating goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievsky with a low shot from outside the penalty area inside the right post.
“[Rodrygo] He gives us a lot, he’s progressing well,” said Ancelotti. Next season it will continue to grow. He was very touched because he is such a good friend [of Vinicius]. He wanted to show solidarity with his teammate.”