Vinicius, a star player for Real Madrid, has fought racism head-on for the last year or so. Many incidents of racist abuse have occurred in recent seasons involving the young Brazilian, despite his celebrity status.

His fellow Brazilians have, surprisingly, not rallied to his support; the remarks made recently by Carlos Alberto Gomes, better known as Pintinho, a former player for Sevilla put this in perspective.

Pintinho, who made his mark in La Liga during the 1980s, recently spoke with Flashscore, criticizing Vinicius for allegedly provoking fans.

In his interview, he suggested that the winger’s actions on the field have invited the racist abuse he has endured.

“I have been very critical of Vinicius. He is a player who left Flamengo, came here, and the people gave him all the support in the world. But it started with the issue of racism. I’ve been here in Spain for 44 years and I’ve never been racially abused. But what happens is that he is a provocateur… He’s a bit of a clown. What he has to do is dedicate himself to playing football”, he said.

Ex-player denies racism in Spain

The 69-year-old’s comments are controversial, especially given his background as a dark-skinned Brazilian player who played in Spain. He implies that Vinicius’ behavior on the field, rather than the inherent racism of the abusers, is to blame for the abuse he receives.

Pintinho, who spent a total of five years in Spain, denies ever facing racial abuse during his career there. This is a claim that raises questions about the changing dynamics of racism in soccer over the decades.

“The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, where Vinicius suffered racism last October, was my home for four years. I’ve been here for 44 years and I’ve never been called ‘negro’,” Pintinho emphasized. He described how fans today, often influenced by alcohol, target players like Vinicius to provoke them and disrupt their concentration. “What happens is that he, as he is a provocateur… Well, now he’s a little better … He’s a bit of a clown, what he has to do is dedicate himself to playing football.”

Vinicius Jr has faced multiple incidents of racism while playing in Spain.
Vinicius Jr has faced multiple incidents of racism while playing in Spain.

Vinicius Jr has faced multiple incidents of racism while playing in Spain.

Broader implication on generational gaps

Pintinho’s comments extend beyond accusations of provocation. He argues that Vinicius has not yet matured into the player he needs to be and has failed to be an example for young fans. “The truth is that he has not yet convinced himself to be a player. He has to be an example for young people, and the issue of his provocation shouldn’t enter his head much.

“But he is improving and I hope that he improves even more for his own good, for the good of football, and for the good of all his people, of his family, that he becomes a person who sets an example, something he didn’t do before,” Pintinho concluded.

This harsh critique of Vinicius contrasts sharply with the widespread support the 23-year-old has received from many quarters, including his club Real Madrid and various anti-racism advocates. The criticism from a fellow Brazilian, especially one who shares a similar racial background, adds a complex layer to the ongoing discussions about racism in soccer.

The comments also highlight the generational and experiential gaps between former and current players. Pintinho’s claim of never experiencing racism during his career in Spain may reflect a different era in soccer, where racial issues were either less overtly recognized or less publicly acknowledged.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire.