A very serious Carlo Ancelotti appeared in the Mestalla press room on Sunday night, for a press conference that was entirely about Vinícius after the Brazilian suffered racist abuse and was sent off in the 1-0 defeat.
The coach started off by addressing the issue in general terms. He stated: “There was a very heated and bad atmosphere and I asked him if he wanted to keep playing. I think it’s bad that I even had to think about substituting off a player because the atmosphere was racist. I should be taking players off if they don’t play well or for rest, but never because they were the subject of racist abuse. What happened today I have seen other times, but not quite like this. This was unacceptable. The Spanish league has a problem. The problem isn’t Vinícius. He is the victim. What should be done? I’m not the best placed person to answer that, but you can’t play football like this. I’d be saying the same if we had won. We lost today and it was tough to find the motivation, but what happened is so serious. You can’t throw another ball on the pitch during an attack and insult Vinícius. Then, they showed him a red card at the end. I’m very sad. The Spanish league is a league with great teams and a good atmosphere, but we have to stop this. We’re in 2023. Racism shouldn’t exist.”
Ancelotti on the referee and racism protocol
Ancelotti added some more details about what the referee told him when play was briefly interrupted. The coach continued: “There have been reports in the past, but what has happened? Nothing has been done. To me, the solution is to stop the game. This can’t continue. He is the player who receives the most fouls and insults. The only solution, for me, is to stop the game. There’s a protocol and the referees explain that firstly they need to tell the fans that if they do it again then something will happen. The referee today told me he was opening the racism protocol. But, then it did happen again. When Vinícius was shown the red card, the whole stadium was shouting ‘mono’ (‘monkey’). I’m very sad about this.”
Ancelotti on how Vinícius is feeling
Asked how Vinícius is feeling after this game, Ancelotti said: “He’s still a kid and he just wants to play football. Now the Bernabéu can’t watch him on Wednesday because someone in VAR invented some violent conduct that didn’t exist. He was being held by the Valencia player and he tried to break free and they show him a red card. We’re all with him. He is sad, of course. Not angry, sad.”
Ancelotti on Vinícius’ gestures
One journalist asked Ancelotti if Vinícius should improve his behaviour and stop touching the Club World Cup badge or making gestures like the “a segunda” one. To that, Ancelotti responded: “Of course, young players can do things better, but we should kept in mind that when a whole stadium insults you it’s hard, especially for young players, to stay as cool as they should. His reaction is quite normal. I, the club and his teammates support him in everything. “
Ancelotti on the Mestalla crowd
There was a moment of tension towards the end of the press conference. Ancelotti stated that the whole of Mestalla was being racist and was challenged by a local reporter.
Ancelotti first said: “They should have suspended the match then and there. It wasn’t one person. It was a whole stadium that went crazy. I had never before seen a whole stadium being racist. Maybe I’ve seen a few people being racist, but I had never seen that from a whole stadium.”
The local reporter then interjected, after the press conference was about to finish: “Since you’ve previously had problems with the language, I’ll clarify it for you. Mestalla wasn’t chanting ‘monkey’ (mono), they were chanting ‘silly’ (tonto). I think we should talk about this. We’re all against racism, but it’s a serious accusation to say a whole stadium and 46,000 people were racist.”
To that, Ancelotti replied: “Whether it was ‘mono’ or ‘tonto’, the referee stopped the game to open the racism protocol. He wouldn’t do that if they just chanted ‘tonto’. Speak to the referee.”
At that, the coach walked out of the Mestalla press room to end one of the most serious and tense press conferences of his entire coaching career.