NEW YORK — Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Tuesday that he was “very sad” about a spiraling racism scandal which has engulfed football in Madrid.
A group of Atlético Madrid fans were filmed singing, “You are a monkey, Vinicius, you are a monkey” about Real Madrid’s star Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr. before a match between the two top Madrid clubs Sunday night.
Sánchez, speaking exclusively to POLITICO on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, demanded a reaction from the club he cheers for.
“I’m a big supporter of Atlético Madrid, so I was very sad,” Sánchez said. “And I expected a strong message from the clubs against this kind of behavior. This is what I will ask of my team.”
“I think it’s important that the soccer clubs take seriously this kind of behavior and react,” Sánchez said.
The storm was triggered last week on Spanish TV by Pedro Bravo, head of the Spanish football agents’ association, saying that Vinicius Jr. needed to stop “acting the monkey” by dancing during his goal celebrations. Bravo later apologized for the remark and said he had been using the phrase metaphorically, about someone “doing stupid things.”
Vinicius Jr. didn’t score against Atlético Madrid on Sunday night, but Atlético fans jeered him throughout the game, and threw missiles when he and Brazilian compatriot Rodrygo danced in the corner after the latter scored Real Madrid’s first goal in a 2-1 win.
In a statement to the Athletic, Atlético Madrid said it condemns “this type of attitude from a few who do not represent anyone, and we make clear that we are completely against racism.”
Ali Walker contributed reporting.