Real Madrid has accused Valencia fans of racially abusing their Brazilian star Vinicius Junior during a league game on Sunday, which they lost 1-0. The forward was also shown a red card in the final minutes.

The incident is being probed by prosecutors in Valencia as a potential “hate crime”, a judicial source said to AFP.

Spain’s football federation boss Luis Rubiales admitted on Monday that racism is a problem in the country. He said at a press conference in Madrid: “We have to acknowledge that we have a problem in our country.” He added that racism tarnishes “a whole team, a whole fan base, a whole club, a whole country.”

Vinicius slammed La Liga as “racist” in a statement after the game and received support from several Brazilian players past and present.

The abuse was condemned by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who said at a news conference at the end of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan: “He was assaulted. He was called a ‘monkey’.”

Vinicius has often been targeted in La Liga and the most recent incident occurred at Valencia’s Mestalla where he was racially insulted by a home fan.

Vinicius confronted fans behind the goal and singled out the apparent offender. Play was paused for several minutes in the second half.

Referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea talked to stadium officials, who made an announcement asking for racist slurs to stop before play continued around 10 minutes later.

The referee wrote in his post-match report that a fan yelled “monkey, monkey” at the player.

Vinicius was shown a red card in stoppage time at the end of the match for hitting Hugo Duro during a scuffle, with Valencia winning through Diego Lopez’s first-half goal.

Vinicius exited the pitch making a gesture with his hands suggesting Valencia were going down to Spain’s second tier.

Ancelotti calls for game stoppage Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Spanish football should be ready to stop matches.

“The Spanish league has a problem, and Vinicius is not the problem. Vinicius is the victim. There’s a very serious problem,” Ancelotti said.

“The fact I considered taking him off because of the racist environment does not seem good to me,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“What has happened today has happened before, but not like that, it’s unacceptable.”

Vinicius has faced racial abuse at several stadiums this season in Spain and an effigy of him was hung from a bridge in the Spanish capital by Atletico Madrid fans.

La Liga have filed legal complaints to Spanish authorities on multiple occasions this season, with the league promising on Sunday to do so again after investigating.

However, Ancelotti said it was not helping.

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