Vinícius Jr., Real Madrid’s star winger, is finally receiving some well-deserved support. Nike has affirmed that it stands behind the 22-year-old footballer, who’s endured a deluge of racism from fans of rival teams.
Nike and PUMA are the two large football sponsors that’ve thus far issued statements in support of Vinícius Jr., a Nike athlete (note that adidas is the kit sponsor for Real).
Though Vinícius Jr., a Black Brazilian athlete, has endured racist chants the entirety of his career, the events in question began on January 26, when four young men hung a Vinícius Jr.-shaped effigy off of a bridge before Real Madrid played local competitor Atlético Madrid.
The effigy, presumably constructed by Atlético fans, wore a Real Madrid kit with Vinícius Jr.’s name and number. Above, they tied a banner that read “Madrid hates Real,” in Spanish. The men were arrested on May 23.
Three additional men were arrested on May 21 for hurling racist insults at Vinícius Jr. during Real’s match against Valencia CF (a PUMA-endorsed club).
La Liga, the top Spanish football league, publicly condemned the act at the time.
Vinícius Jr. had previously condemned La Liga for “doing nothing” about the racism he’s endured, recounting several games throughout 2022 when fans chanted slurs and threw trash whenever Vinícius Jr. scored during Real games.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has since personally apologized to Real Madrid and Valencia was fined €45,000.