HomeSportsIt hasn't taken Jude Bellingham long to realize how big a problem...

It hasn’t taken Jude Bellingham long to realize how big a problem racism is in Spanish soccer

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MANCHESTER, England — Jude Bellingham spoke Tuesday about the “disgusting” level of racism in Spanish soccer and called for action so that Real Madrid teammate Vinícius Junior isn’t driven out of the sport in the face of persistent abuse.

Brazil winger Vinícius has repeatedly been the target of racial insults from opposition fans and last month said he was losing his desire to carry on playing.

Bellingham said he doubted whether soccer’s authorities would be able to stamp out racism in the sport after a Mallorca supporter was caught on camera over the weekend making monkey gestures following a goal from Madrid midfielder Aurelien Tchouaméni.

“The people in power need to do more, especially with Vini in the recent weeks — well, years actually,” he said ahead of Madrid’s Champions League quarterfinals second-leg match against Manchester City. “I think the blame gets shifted more onto him because of maybe his playing style and the way he likes to express himself and I don’t think that’s fair.

“The game would miss players like Vini if he decided to take a break because of this thing. More needs to be done to support these players.”

Vinícius broke down in tears when speaking last month about the abuse he’s been subjected to.

In January last year, an effigy of him was hung from an overpass near Madrid’s training ground in the Spanish capital. Later that season, he was in tears during a match after confronting a fan who had made monkey gestures toward him.

Brazil’s Vinicius Jr walks onto the pitch for a friendly soccer match between Spain and Brazil at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. Credit: AP/Jose Breton

Bellingham, an England international who joined Madrid from Borussia Dortmund last summer, said such incidents are so common in Spain that he wasn’t even aware of the latest incident following Tchouaméni’s goal.

“In the games where we go away, in La Liga especially, you almost get so used to it,” he said. “That’s a massive problem in itself. More has got to be done, whether it’s the punishment and how you react to it or how you move proactively to this kind of thing. It’s a horrible way for a player to prepare for a game knowing that they’re probably going to get racially abused. It’s disgusting. It shouldn’t happen.

“It’s definitely a call-out for the people who are in charge to take control. I doubt that will happen. It’s going to be something that I imagine we will still have to just deal with going into games. I think that’s one of those things where you have just got to play your game and hope that the people look after you — and they’re not doing it well enough at the moment.”

Bellingham, who joined Madrid last summer in a deal that could be worth up to $139 million, has no regrets about the move after reportedly being a target for City.

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham attends a press conference at the...

Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham attends a press conference at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Tuesday April 16, 2024 ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal soccer match against Manchester City. Credit: AP/Martin Rickett

“I had conversations with other teams, but when Madrid came in it was a no-brainer really,” he said. “The size of the club, the project, the plan going forward, the chance to play with such amazing players. I just jumped at it.”

Bellingham had previously been targeted by England’s biggest clubs when he was a teenager at Birmingham City.

Despite Manchester United enlisting greats like Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona to try to lure him, the midfielder opted instead to join Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

“I took a path that’s unfamiliar,” Bellingham said. “It’s a good idea for young players to go abroad and hopefully I’m showing that.”

Madrid and City go into the second leg at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday with the score tied at 3-3.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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