Nike is the latest brand to condemn the racist abuse suffered by Vinicius Junior during Real Madrid‘s defeat to Valencia on Sunday in Spain. The brand, which was a longtime sponsor of the Brazilian soccer player, shared a message on Instagram taking a stand.
“Stop looking the other way,” read the image shared on Nike’s Instagram on Tuesday. “We stand with @vinijr,” the brand captioned the post.
Nike started sponsoring Vinicius in 2013 when he was 13 years old. In 2018, the soccer player renewed a 10-year contract with the brand. After joining Adidas-sponsored Real Madrid in 2017, Vinicius’s relationship with Nike changed. The player was reportedly feeling undervalued by the Swoosh brand.
During the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Vinicius played for Brazil wearing an old model of Nike cleats, going against his agreement with Nike, which required him to wear the brand’s latest model.
In February, Vinicius covered his shoes in black to hide Nike’s Swoosh logo during a match, making it clear that his contract with the brand had come to an end.
Puma, which sponsors the Valencia club, also made a statement offering support to Vinicius after Sunday’s episode. “At PUMA, we do not tolerate racism, we condemn discrimination in any form and stand in solidarity with Vinicius Junior and the wider football community in condemning events yesterday,” the brand said in a statement to Reuters.
During Sunday’s game at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, Vinicius was targeted with racial slurs from the crowd. Valencia was one point ahead with just minutes remaining when a second ball was thrown onto the pitch to deny Vinicius a potential goal-scoring chance. Moments later, Valencia’s Hugo Duro physically clashed with Vinicius, who received a red card. On Wednesday, Vinicius’ red card was rescinded.
Spanish police reportedly detained seven men over separate alleged racist incidents against Vinicius.
After the match, Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti condemned the episode. “They cannot yell ‘monkey’ at Vinicius. The game must be stopped. If an entire stadium is chanting ‘monkey’ then the game has to be stopped,” he said.
On Twitter, Vinicius said the episode wasn’t the first time, nor the second or third that he had suffered racism abuse in LaLiga, the men’s top professional soccer division of Spain.
Renan Botelho is the senior Digital Editor for Footwear News, reporting on the latest fashion trends and celebrity style. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the Methodist University of São Paulo. He can be reached at email@example.com.