Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.
This week in Spain, sadly, has been dominated by discussion over racism received by Vinicius Junior. But what actually happened, and what is being done about it?
On Sunday evening, Vinicius was racially abused by several fans in the crowd against Valencia. The Brazilian actively pointed out the fans involved, and bearing in mind this is tenth ‘official’ incident of racism towards Vinicius, was visibly welling up at the time. Just 15 minutes later, he would be sent off, while the Valencia player who had him in a headlock from behind received no punishment.
Coming out on Twitter after the match, Vinicius said that the ‘racists had their reward’ on social media, before calling Spain a racist country. La Liga President Javier Tebas then chastised him for directing his ire at the league, said that he should ‘inform himself better’, highlighting that La Liga were not the ones responsible for handing out punishment. Vinicius pointed out that he was far quicker to defend the league than condemn the racism.
After the Brazilian President Lula da Silva was perhaps the most senior figure to condemn Tebas and La Liga amongst international uproar, which has jumped the authorities into action. Valencia will face one of their stands being closed for five games and a €45k fine, while La Liga have now asked for the power to sanction themselves, rather than leaving it with the Federation and the government. Tebas, famously strong-willed, even walked back his comments.
Para que quede claro : en ningún momento pidé para salir por lo tanto no me voy a ir a ningún lado.
— Jules Kounde (@jkeey4) May 25, 2023
Away from that grim affair, and onto the rather frivolous transfer fare, most of the week was spent debating whether Jules Kounde would leave the club, supposedly with an €80m price tag on his head. The Frenchman has been shifted to right-back this season to compensate for Xavi Hernandez literally not having another one available. However Kounde quashed those rumours himself – saying that he is going nowhere on Twitter.
The main target for Barcelona is a replacement for Sergio Busquets, so said Xavi, and one of the surprise targets they are looking at is Arthur Vermeeren of Royal Antwerp. The 18-year-old, who was linked with Manchester United and Newcastle United earlier this year, saw his name become household in Spain overnight.
Elsewhere, there are just two games to go with Real Sociedad hot favourites for the fourth Champions League spot. Villarreal will need a miracle to overhaul them with a five-point deficit. Anything is possible with Nico Jackson right now though, who is in electric form. A €25m move to Bournemouth collapsed in January due to a medical, but with 8 goals in 7 games, Jackson is likely to be back on Premier League radars again. Down at the bottom, just five points separate seven teams still at risk of relegation. That includes Valencia, Celta Vigo, Almeria, Getafe, Cadiz, Real Valladolid and Espanyol, who are currently three points adrift. It is a slight sickener for those involved at the RCDE Stadium, where having come back from 3-0 down in 15 minutes of the second half, still left with the feeling it wasn’t enough.