LaLiga president Javier Tebas says his organisation would be able to tackle the issue of racism in Spanish football if it had the power to directly sanction clubs.
Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior claimed LaLiga “belongs to the racists” after being subject to 10 reports of racist abuse this season, the last of those incidents coming at Valencia in May which led to widespread criticism of the Spanish authorities.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, Tebas reiterated that the league’s hands are tied by laws which means they can currently only identify and report incidents, with punishments rarely handed out, and called for a change of strategy.
“Well, it’s a turning point. What we have to make sure is that this doesn’t happen again,” Tebas told Sky Sports News.
“LaLiga has always been very serious about this, especially with Vinicius. We have taken this to court nine times with events relating to Vinicius, and we have even reported cases that he himself didn’t know about.
“So what we are looking for is a change of strategy because there has been lots of claims. So what we want is a change of strategy so that we will have the powers to be able to sanction directly.
“We can’t just report something – we want to be able to directly sanction the clubs so it can’t be repeated. If we had the powers to do that, I’m sure that these racist insults which have happened to Vinicius, in six months, I think we put an end to that.
“If we don’t have the power to do so, well we will just have to report them. But basically what we want is more power and more competence to be able to sanction them.
“Sometimes when you don’t have the powers, you have to make decisions as fast as possible, and also more strongly, and I think they do not go as fast as we would like. They [the Spanish government] are not as decisive as we would like.
“But let’s see what happens because now Spain’s going to have elections, and that’s going to be a legal aspect. We are going to have elections here in Spain on July 21. But I think there seems to be very good dispositions towards making these changes.”
In a previous interview, Tebas had laughed when questioned how many Black people worked in LaLiga, saying that he had not counted.
But when asked about his reaction by Sky Sports News, Tebas added that LaLiga had far more diversity than Spanish society as it was an international league.
“Well I can’t say if we have diversity of every race everywhere,” he said. “In my office here we have Arabs, Asians, Indonesians, Indian, Black people from the United States and also African countries. We do have a lot diversity.
“If we had a percentage in line with the diversity of races in the Spanish population, I think we will always have lots more diversity in LaLiga than in the general population of Spain. Why? Because we are a league that is international.
“We have all different races. The question that was asked in that [interview], I don’t count them, that’s what I said.”
The racist abuse aimed at Vinicius came to a head in May when he was targeted by chants from sections of the crowd at the Mestalla during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss to Valencia.
The game was stopped in the second half for 10 minutes as the visibly angry Vinicius grabbed the referee and pointed towards fans who he felt had abused him.
He was later sent off for violent conduct in added time following an altercation with Valencia striker Hugo Duro. However, his red card was later rescinded by the Spanish FA (RFEF).
It led to an outpouring of support from across sport with seven people involved in different racist attacks against Vinicius have been punished by Spain’s State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport.
Tebas apologised in May for suggesting Vinicius was being “manipulated” when the Real Madrid winger called out the racism he has suffered in Spain.
Valencia were given a partial stadium ban for five matches and fined £39,000 – a punishment the club called “totally disproportionate” as they confirmed they would lodge an appeal. After doing so, the stadium ban was cut to three games and the fine was reduced to £23,500.
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