American sports certainly have a lot of problems. Fan culture here can be violently toxic, and sometimes the teams can be complicit in it (hi there, NHL). Social media certainly plays a role, where the real ugliness lies, but it occasionally spills out into the actual stands. There is plenty to work on. But it has been decades since we saw these kinds of things on our fields. That, sadly, is not the case in La Liga, where Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. continues to be the subject of racist abuse by the fans, and somehow wound up being red-carded for it.
It gets worse, somehow. The president of La Liga then tried to blame Vinicius Jr. for the treatment he has repeatedly suffered in La Liga this season.
Solving racism is not Vinicius’ job
What does the league need Vinicius there for to explain? It’s all there on video and on Twitter. Why is it the Brazilian’s job to educate the powers that be on what needs to be done? The answers are simple. Matches should be halted, canceled, and the home team given a loss by the match referee. Players on both sides should walk off. Huge fines of clubs that do nothing to rein in the worst sections of their supporters. The answers are simple, but Javier Tebas wants to blame Vinicius for his league not taking them.
Instead we get this, with broadcasters and journalists trying to claim that Vinicius Jr. was provoking the crowd and really what did he expect? He can’t even really get the support of his club, not fully, because this is REAL MADRID. If they wanted serious changes in La Liga, they always get them. Instead all he can expect is more buck-passing and more blame coming his way for having the audacity to be Black, play for Madrid, and be one of the world’s best.
And this has been the case all season for him. Repeatedly he has been the object of vile chants and taunts at stadiums across Spain, and nothing changes. Better yet, perhaps La Liga should relegate Valencia today. That would be a punishment with some teeth.
We’ve seen no different with fans of the Mexican national team and homophobic chants. Matches have been paused, even the last Nation’s League final. But never abandoned. Mexico has never suffered a loss because of it, even though it’s in the rulebook. What ref would have the stones to do it if all they can expect is organizations like La Liga or the FMF to bus-toss them immediately?
Update: Seven people were arrested in connection with two racist events involving Vinicius Junior, according to Spanish police.
Leagues need to be held acocuntable
It is not a problem simply in Spain of course. Italy just saw an episode like this with Romelu Lukaku. It is rife across Eastern Europe. And yet nothing seems to change. FIFA sends out a nasty press statement, so does UEFA, and we just move onto the next one.
In some ways it would serve La Liga right to lose one of its leading lights and watch Vinicius walk out the door thanks to the lack of protection he gets. Or to have any other Black player simply refuse to sign for a Spanish club and their standing in world football collapse almost immediately. And yet it feels too easy. But yet, we can’t count on La Liga to do much else that’s better.
Boston Celtics fall hard to Miami
The Celtics continue to be the team that everyone thinks the Maple Leafs are. Whereas the Leafs seem like they genuinely want to bring it all home for their psychotic fanbase and always seem hurt by the vitriol thrown at them, the Cs have always seemed like they’re miserable being together 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent, like last spring, they’re an incredible team. And then there’s whatever this series is against the Heat, a barely held together collection of wing talent that at a moment’s notice is all too happy to blame each other for whatever’s gone wrong.
Ime Udoka had the will or the discipline to keep them all on the same tune for one season at least. Certainly Brad Stevens never could as he kept shoveling the ball to Gordon Hayward. Joe Mazzulla had this job thrust upon him when Idoka had to be fired, so it’s unfair to keep this clearly bountiful but clearly complicated collection of talent pulling in the same direction.
But when it comes loose, it really comes loose. Getting blown out in a game you have to win suggests a team that doesn’t want to be there anymore. So did the completely lack of fight. If Doc Rivers hadn’t frozen in the headlights and James Harden not regularly turn to cardboard in the playoffs, it probably would, and should, be worse for the Cs.
It had lined up to be a magical spring at TD Garden. Miami went ahead and took it from them.
What is Ryan Suter doing?
Dallas Stars defenseman Ryan Suter has always played the game as 75 percent speed, which was fine when he could read every play three seconds before it happened and simply was in the right spot before anyone else thought to be there. He never had to sprint, or even check really. But that kind of game doesn’t tend to work when you’re 38, and instead of being in control at all times, you’re just slow:
The Stars had the Knights completely smothered in Game 2,, with Vegas not even at 20 shots when this turnover happened to tie the game with two minutes left. While they could have been more aggressive to add a third goal, they really had Vegas looking like they would never score. And then Suter happened, and it very well might cost the Stars everything.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate.