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Ancelotti: “This is a good moment to take drastic measures against the issue of racism”

Tuesday’s coach’s press conference was entirely focused on the racism issue.


The pre-match press conference ahead of Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano was, logically, focused entirely on the incidents at Mestalla on Sunday and the general issue of racism in football. Carlo Ancelotti answered several questions on the matter over 20 minutes.

He started with a lengthy reflection on the past two days, stating: “We’re worried about what happened, like I think everyone is worried. People are talking about this and I think they should be. It could be a good opportunity to fix things. Vinicius has been a victim. They often say he provokes, or that he has a bad attitude. It should be clear that he has been the victim in all this. The fans who behave impeccably are also victims. When I refer to ‘all of Mestalla’ I don’t refer to 46,000 fans. I refer to a group that acted very badly. Like the way there was a group in Mallorca, in Valladolid, etc. Apart from the racism, which is the most serious, it seems that there is a culture of insulting. I agree with Xavi, who I thought was exemplary with his comments. Why do we think the culture of insulting is okay in football? In the post-match press conference, they told me that they weren’t chanting ‘monkey’ (‘mono’) at Vinícius and that they were only chanting ‘silly’ (‘tonto’). Why is that even okay? That’s not a racial insult, but it’s also an insult. Why should we get used to insults? That has to stop. We’re tired of being insulted every day. It happens to Xavi. It happens to Vinícius, where there is more racism. It happens to many others. They say ‘son of a b***h’, they say ‘f***ot’, they say ‘I hope your parents die’. It’s not war, it’s sport. We have a great opportunity to stop this. The FIFA president was already very clear and I hope the Spanish federation, LaLiga and the referees can be clear too. In the Valencia game, they didn’t show the complete images and that shouldn’t happen. I also want to say that Spain is not racist, but there is racism in Spain. Like there is in other places. This has to end.”

Ancelotti on the VAR images that got Vinícius sent off

The very next question was about Ancelotti’s point on VAR, and the fact that only Vinícius’ red card offence was spotted on Sunday and not those of the other players. On this, he said: “Manipulating images is very serious. I don’t know if they manipulated the images or just forgot about them. He was attacked first, by the goalkeeper and then by Hugo Duro. If you are attacked, you have to defend yourself. That’s what happened.”

Ancelotti on how to solve the racism issue

The debate then moved back to the issue or racism and Ancelotti was asked what he thinks can be done. He responded: “I look to the Spanish federation and to LaLiga to take measures. I also call on fans to be more intelligent and respectful. Condemning acts of racism isn’t enough. We have been condemning acts of racism for years. There still hasn’t been action, not enough to stop it. It’s a problem of racism and insults. There are countries where they don’t insult you. In England, they don’t insult you. They solved this some time ago. In 1985, English clubs were expelled from European competitions for five years, so there they took action. It’s true that there are still isolated incidents of racism in England. But, with the insults, it’s such that there’s no police in English league games. Here it seems you’re going to war, because there’s a police van in front, behind, at the same. Why? Fortunately, in England they solved this issue earlier by taking drastic measures. I think we’re at a good point to take drastic measures. The institutions have an opportunity, especially now, to take serious measures to improve the situation. I also think the racism protocol is obsolete. The protocol should start when the bus arrives at the stadium because that’s when the insults start. To those who say Vinícius provokes, I’d point out that there are insults two hours before the game starts, and it’s not just one or two people. I saw someone from Valencia saying it was isolated incidents. Ok, it wasn’t all 46,000, so I apologise for that. But, it’s not one or two.”

Ancelotti on the possibility of withdrawing the team from the pitch

Given that he thinks FIFA’s current racism protocol is obsolete, Ancelotti was asked if he considered calling the players off the pitch himself. He took a couple of seconds and then replied: “I have thought about that. I asked Vinícius if he wanted to continue and he wanted to continue. Walking off is an individual thing to consider. Maybe in the future I’ll have to take the responsibility of taking the player and the team off the pitch. But, it shouldn’t be my responsibility. I hope I don’t need to reach that point. There is a referee on the pitch who should take this responsibility.”

Ancelotti on whether Spain is a racist country

The coach was asked if he thinks Spain is a racist country. To that, he said: “I’m convinced that Spain is not a racist country, but there are racists in it. There are cases of racism, like there are in Italy too. I’m just a citizen like you all are, so I don’t have the responsibility to work out the measures to fix this. Other institutions know better than me for this. One of the measures could be to name and shame the people, revealing their names.”

Ancelotti on how Vinícius is feeling

Asked for an update on how the player is coping, he said: “I spoke with him after the game. Obviously he was very sad, but he knows he has everyone’s support, and not just of people at Real Madrid. He has been shown support from many, even rivals. He hasn’t trained today, but only because of a minor knee issue. We’re waiting to find out how many games he’ll be suspended for, if it’s one or two. If he is banned for two games, then I’ll give him a week of holiday off and he’ll return for the final game of the season against Athletic.”

Ancelotti on why racism against Vinícius has increased

The Italian was then asked why he thinks there are more instances of racism against Vinícius across the past two seasons compared to his first three seasons in Spain, a question that seemed to completely forget about the coronavirus pandemic. The coach replied: “I don’t know why this has happened. I repeat, Spain isn’t a racist country but there are racists, especially in football stadiums. Maybe now Vinicius is more of a protagonist than before. Maybe he is seen as more of a sporting threat. That can happen in sport, for there to be a sporting enemy. But for this to then turn into insults, that’s another matter. “

Ancelotti on the possibility of Vinícius leaving

Asked if he thinks the forward will leave Spain because of this, Ancelotti dismissed that by saying: “No, I don’t think so. He loves football and he loves Real Madrid. I don’t think he’s thinking of leaving, because he loves Real Madrid a lot and wants to continue his career in this team.”

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