Jude Bellingham made it 20 goals for the season as he and Vinicius Junior teamed up to put Girona to the sword and send Real Madrid five points clear at the top of the LaLiga table.

The England midfielder scored twice with both set up by Vinicius, who had opened the scoring before Rodrygo wrapped up a 4-0 win with a fine run and finish. Substitute Joselu also missed a late penalty.

It was just surprise package Girona’s second defeat of the league campaign, with the first also coming at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s men, and it was every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.

With visiting head coach Michel banned from the touchline following his dismissal for leaving his technical area during last weekend’s draw with Real Sociedad, and opposite number Ancelotti forced to field a makeshift back four with injuries biting hard into his resources, there was an air of uncertainty around the Bernabeu Stadium as the game kicked off.

However, the fears of the locals were settled within six minutes when Vinicius picked up possession wide on the left, cut inside Ivan Martin and curled an unstoppable right-foot shot across keeper Paulo Gazzaniga and inside the far post.

With Toni Kroos dictating play, Madrid continued to look the more threatening and Girona skipper Juanpe was mightily relieved to concede a free-kick on the edge of the box rather than a penalty after he had rudely interrupted Eduardo Camavinga’s blistering 21st-minute run towards goal.

Federico Valverde curled the resulting set-piece straight into Gazzaniga’s arms, but there was little let-up in the home side’s efforts to build upon their encouraging start.

Bellingham dragged a 32nd-minute shot wide, but made amends within three minutes when he ran on to Vinicius’ superb ball behind Eric Garcia and rounded Gazzaniga to make it 2-0.

Vinicius scuffed wide after being played through as the whistle approached, but the sides headed for the dressing rooms with the hosts very much in the driving seat.

The visitors, who had offered little before the break, returned in determined mood and it took a last-ditch clearance by Ferland Mendy to cut out Miguel Gutierrez’s inviting cross as they finally started to make an impression going forward.

However, their hopes suffered a further blow within nine minutes when Vinicius cut in from the left and saw Gazzaniga parry his shot straight to Bellingham, who tapped into the empty net.

The Englishman’s evening ended prematurely with 57 minutes gone when, having earlier turned an ankle, he was replaced by Brahim Diaz.

His team did not feel his loss, however, and Rodrigo extended their lead within four minutes, accepting Vinicius’ pass before racing away to fire emphatically past Gazzaniga.

It should have been 5-0 at the death, but Joselu struck the post with a penalty awarded for Yan Couto’s foul on Arda Guler.

Real Madrid moved back to the top of LaLiga after Joselu’s double secured a routine 2-0 win at Getafe.

Joselu bagged his first league goal since October 7 after heading home from Lucas Vazquez’s right-wing cross in the opening quarter of an hour.

The 33-year-old then struck in the second half as Real downed their Madrid rivals to leapfrog Girona and move two points clear at the top of the standings.

Jude Bellingham was restored to the Real line-up after missing the come-from-behind win at Las Palmas last time out but was upstaged early on as he was nutmegged by Borja Mayoral in a rare Getafe foray.

Joselu rattled the bar early on but was flagged offside while Vinicius Junior saw a tame shot saved after being put through but Getafe failed to heed the warning signs and fell behind in the 14th minute.

It was a simple enough move as Vazquez got ahead of Gaston Alvarez on the wing and crossed to the back post, where Joselu managed to shrug off Domingos Duarte and direct a downward header into the net.

While the on-loan Espanyol forward had scored in other competitions, this was his first goal in the Spanish top-flight in 13 appearances – although he has only started three times in that period.

The Vazquez-Joselu pairing combined again and the latter forced Getafe goalkeeper David Soria to push round the post.

Real’s only concern of the half came when Antonio Rudiger came off worst after a challenge on Mason Greenwood, leading to the limping Germany defender being withdrawn at half-time for Eduardo Camavinga.

Diego Rico, Juan Latasa and Jordi Martin were introduced at the beginning of the second half by Getafe, who saw Greenwood cut inside and clip the outside of the near post soon after the resumption.

But just as Getafe looked to be gaining some momentum, Real and Joselu doubled their tally to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb in the 56th minute.

Following some excellent build-up play from Bellingham and Ferland Mendy, Vinicius Junior fed Joselu on the edge of the box and the Spaniard took a touch before sending a left-foot shot past Soria.

Joselu passed up the chance to bag a hat-trick after being put through by Bellingham, unselfishly squaring for Vinicius, who only had to lift over Soria but shot directly at the Getafe custodian.

Federico Valverde and Bellingham were also denied by Soria while at the other end, Mayoral saw his shot cannon off the crossbar before Luis Milla directed his follow-up over.

Greenwood saw a deflected strike miss the target in added-on time as Getafe were unable to get on the scoresheet despite an improved attacking display after the break.

Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde has signed a two-year contract extension at Real Madrid, the LaLiga club have announced.

The 25-year-old, who joined the Spanish giants in 2016, is now committed to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2029.

Valverde, who has become a mainstay of the side over the past six seasons, has played 220 games for the club and won nine trophies including the Champions League and two LaLiga titles.

A statement from the club read: “Real Madrid and Fede Valverde have agreed to extend the contract of the player, who is linked to the club until June 30, 2029.”

Valverde becomes the fourth Real player to extend their contract with the club this month, after Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior all signed new deals.

Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Real Sociedad all booked their places in the knockout stages of the Champions League with two games to spare on a dramatic night of European action.

Bayern made it four wins out of four in Group A but only after a frantic finish in their 2-1 win over Galatasaray.

The visitors had the ball in the net just after the hour but Lucas Torreira was offside, and Bayern took the lead when Harry Kane flicked in Joshua Kimmich’s free-kick with 10 minutes to go, with the goal awarded following a VAR check after initially being ruled offside.

Kane then doubled the lead with his 25th career Champions League goal, turning in Mathys Tel’s cross in the 86th minute, and they needed the cushion as Cedric Bakambu scored for Galatasaray in stoppage time.

Despite defeat Galatasaray remain second in the group after Manchester United suffered a costly 4-3 defeat in Copenhagen, blowing a 2-0 lead after Marcus Rashford was sent off.

Rasmus Hojlund’s early brace against his former club put United in control despite the loss of Jonny Evans to injury, but the night changed when Rashford saw red for a challenge on Elias Jelert following a VAR intervention in the 42nd minute.

Ex-Southampton forward Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back before Diogo Goncalves levelled from the penalty spot after a Harry Maguire handball deep into first-half stoppage time.

Bruno Fernandes restored United’s lead with a 69th-minute penalty after Lukas Lerager handled, but the Copenhagen midfielder made amends with an 83rd minute equaliser before Roony Bardghji won it four minutes later, leaving United bottom of the group before their trip to Istanbul.

Real Madrid cruised through with a 3-0 win over Braga. They overcame an early scare when Alvaro Djalo missed a penalty for the visitors after Lucas Vazquez fouled Cristian Borja just four minutes in, but once Brahim Diaz put them in front in the 27th minute there was no looking back.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo added to the scoreline with two goals in five minutes early in the second half, and there was no way back for the visitors.

The other Group C game between Napoli and Union Berlin ended 1-1 as David Fofana’s first Union goal – and the club’s first away from home in the Champions League – cancelled out Matteo Politano’s opener.

Inter edged out RB Salzburg 1-0 in Austria to secure their progress, with the game decided by Lautaro Martinez’s 84th-minute penalty after Mads Bidstrup handled in the area.

And that result also saw Real Sociedad go through from Group D after their 3-1 win over Benfica earlier in the evening.

Early goals from Mikel Merino and Mikel Oyarzabal had Sociedad in control after just 11 minutes and it was 3-0 10 minutes later as Ander Barrenetxea fired into the roof of the net.

Brais Mendez hit the post with a penalty just before the half hour and Rafa Silva pulled one back for Benfica early in the second half, but Sociedad comfortably took the points.

Arsenal are in control of Group B after goals from Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka earned a 2-0 win over Sevilla.

The Gunners top the group with nine points, four clear of PSV Eindhoven and Lens, who are level on five after Luuk de Jong’s 12th-minute header was enough for 1-0 win over Lens, who had substitute Morgan Guilavogui sent off late on.

Real Madrid cruised into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Braga.

After overcoming an early scare when Alvaro Djalo missed a penalty for the visitors, the 14-time European champions took the lead through Brahim Diaz in the 27th minute and then seized control early in the second half as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo added to the score line.

A fourth win out of four in Group C, and ninth straight game at home without defeat in the Champions League, saw Real book their place in the last-16 with two games to spare.

With the hosts needing only a point to be sure of progression, Carlo Ancelotti took the opportunity to rest a number of regulars.

Jude Bellingham was on the bench after suffering a blow to the shoulder at the weekend, while David Alaba and Dani Carvajal were also among the substitutes.

It was a dramatic start to the match as Braga were awarded a penalty just four minutes in, with Lucas Vazquez pulling Cristian Borja back by the shirt and earning a yellow card for his troubles.

But Real avoided further punishment with goalkeeper Andriy Lunin equal to a weak spot-kick from Djalo.

The home side wanted a penalty of their own moments later when Rodrygo went down under a challenge from Sikou Niakate but the referee waved play on.

Diaz, who replaced Bellingham in the side, thought he had scored in the 12th minute following a mistake from Niakate, sweeping home Rodrygo’s pass, but the Brazilian was deemed guilty of a foul in the build-up.

Braga were appealing for another penalty in the 20th minute when Vazquez barged into Bruma, but the winger had already lost control of the ball as he tried to punish a wayward header from the defender.

The hosts went straight to the other end where Federico Valverde blazed over but the goal was coming and arrived in the 27th minute when Rodrygo pulled the ball back for Diaz to lift into the roof of the net.

Rodrygo had a chance to double the lead before half-time but shot straight at Matheus from the left.

Diaz was close to a second 10 minutes into the second half after Vinicius cut the ball back, but his first effort was stopped by the goalkeeper and his follow-up shot blocked by Jose Fonte.

Real were turning up the heat, and the second goal came in the 58th minute as Vinicius finished off a neat move, cutting past Fonte and finding the bottom corner.

And they killed the game off three minutes later, hitting Braga on the break as Rodrygo exchanged passes with Vinicius before lifting the ball over the goalkeeper.

Braga dropped back in numbers to ensure there was no fourth on the night and almost got a goal of their own in stoppage time through Abel Ruiz’s header, which was well saved by Lunin.

Jan Vertonghen does not believe there will be two players who dominate the Ballon d'Or during the next decade in the way Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have done.

Messi scooped his record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or on Monday in Paris.

The 36-year-old led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year, and also enjoyed a fine individual season with Paris Saint-Germain.

This Ballon d'Or will almost certainly be Messi's last. Since 2008, he or Ronaldo have won every edition of the award bar two, with Luka Modric taking it in 2018 and Karim Benzema in 2022.

Messi finished ahead of Erling Haaland – who scored 52 goals in his first season at Manchester City – and his former club-mate Kylian Mbappe, who played a direct part in 50 goals in all competitions for PSG and was the World Cup's leading scorer.

While Haaland and Mbappe have been tipped to fight it out for the award over the next decade, former Tottenham and Ajax defender Vertonghen thinks the days of two players dominating are over.

"I don't think it's going to be two guys dominating for the next 15 years," Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform.

"There are a lot of massive talents. Obviously, you've got Haaland and Mbappe already there for a couple of years, but then if you look at [Jude] Bellingham, what he's doing now, [Jamal] Musiala, I love him, Phil Foden, Vinicius [Junior].

"Those are the young guys. I hope one day a defender or even a goalkeeper [can win]. Thibaut Courtois was very close the year [Real Madrid] won the Champions League.

"I'm probably forgetting 10 or 15 more names. With Belgium, we have a great couple of young guys. There's so many, and I hope one day it could go to a Belgian one."

Bellingham enjoyed a strong season with Borussia Dortmund, though has taken his play up to an elite level since his move to Real Madrid.

The England midfielder finished 18th in the overall voting, with Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala coming in 26th, 20 places behind Vinicius.

Kevin De Bruyne came fourth in the vote, and Vertonghen enthused over his compatriot's quality.

"Kevin, his passing ability is the one that stands out - you know that he is known for his assists and his vision, but he understands the game so well," he said.

"He knows how to use the space, where to run, he is very, very good in pressing which is something you don't really think of when you think of him, you think of assists, vision, scoring goals, but the way he is able to understand how a team builds up, he's just a genius of the pitch.

"Whenever I played against him with Tottenham, we would always try to build up on the other side because he's the one that will get the team going."

What the papers say

Jadon Sancho could leave Manchester United in January, the Daily Mail reports, with the Red Devils said to be willing to subsidise his wages to offload the 23-year-old forward. Sancho, who is reportedly paid £300,000 a week at United, remains out of the first-team picture at Old Trafford following his stand-off with boss Erik ten Hag.

The Times says Tottenham defender Eric Dier could move back to his former club Sporting Lisbon in January, or when his contract runs out next summer. The 29-year-old is yet to feature for Tottenham this season after playing 33 games for the club last term. The England international joined the club in 2014 from Portuguese outfit Sporting.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Vinicius Junior: The 23-year-old Real Madrid superstar is yet to sign a new contract with the club, with his current deal running out next summer, Spanish outlet Sport says.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Football Insider reports that Manchester United have commenced talks with their 25-year-old right-back to sort out a new contract.

Jude Bellingham made it 10 goals in 10 games for Real Madrid with a clinical brace in a 4-0 victory over Osasuna that saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men return to the top of LaLiga.

The England midfielder struck in either half before Vinicius Junior and Joselu wrapped up the points as Madrid reclaimed top spot from Girona, who had won earlier in the day.

Madrid needed just nine minutes to get their noses in front at the Bernabeu and, almost inevitably, it was Bellingham who did the damage.

Luka Modric picked out Dani Carvajal’s run into the area and the full-back cleverly laid the ball back to Bellingham, who took a couple of touches before drilling a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

That was a third goal in eight days for Bellingham as he continued his phenomenal start to life in Spain since his £88.5million summer move from Borussia Dortmund.

It was also all that separated the sides in the first half, with Madrid unable to break through again despite trying their luck through a Vinicius shot that went over and an attempted Carvajal chip that Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera was equal to.

Osasuna, meanwhile, had threatened little in the opening 45 minutes but gave their hosts a double scare just before half-time when Jon Moncayola’s strike from distance went inches wide before Ante Budimir spurned a great chance to level in stoppage time.

Ruben Pena’s cross was left by Lucas Torro for team-mate Budimir, who was unmarked near the penalty spot, but the Croatia international fired over.

Perhaps spooked by those let-offs, or inspired by Ancelotti’s half-time input, Madrid came out firing in the second half and Joselu looked to have made it 2-0 only to see his shot skim the far post.

Madrid continued to push though and, after Eduardo Camavinga tried his luck from range, Bellingham doubled their lead in the 54th minute.

The 20-year-old drove at the Osasuna defence on the edge of the area, played a one-two with Federico Valverde and then coolly finished between Herrera’s legs.

If that did not end Osasuna’s challenge, then Joselu’s goal to make it 3-0 in the 65th minute most definitely did.

Madrid broke quickly after winning possession, with Valverde threading Vinicius through from the halfway line and the winger sprinted clear before rounding Herrera and slotting home.

Vinicius then turned provider as rampant Madrid added a fourth goal in the 69th minute.

The Brazil international superbly brought down a long ball forward from Aurelien Tchouameni, then showed good strength to hold off his marker before slipping in Joselu to fire into the corner of the net.

Madrid had chances to add to their tally after that, the best of which saw Joselu denied from the penalty spot by Herrera following a handball in the area, but the result was long settled by then.

Vinicius Junior will start his first game since August as Real Madrid attempt to dethrone early LaLiga leaders Girona on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Brazil international was used as a second-half substitute in Wednesday evening’s 2-0 home win over Las Palmas on his return from a hamstring injury, but manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed he will return to the starting line-up at the weekend.

Ancelotti told a press conference: “He’s fine and he’s going to play from the beginning. Then we’ll see how many minutes he can last – maybe 90, but it depends on what I ask him to do.

“I see him very well, fully recovered, and he’s going to contribute to us. We’re not going to change the system, but modify some details to be more successful and solid.”

Vinicius has not started a game since the 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on August 25, and sat out four fixtures – including last Sunday’s 3-1 derby defeat at Atletico Madrid – as a result of his injury.

His return comes as defender David Alaba prepares to sit out at the Estadi Montilivi with a muscle problem suffered in midweek.

The fixture brings together the sides currently lying in first and second places in the fledgling table with the hosts having won their last six after an opening-day draw at Real Sociedad.

Ancelotti said: “We have to play a complete game in the sense that the team has to have balance: defend well and with the ball show the quality we have to do damage.

“We are alert because of how well Girona are playing at the moment. Last time we went there, it wasn’t a good night, and the same thing won’t happen tomorrow.

“Girona is playing very well, but we have a good chance of winning the game.”

 

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Last season’s visit to Girona in April ended in a 4-2 defeat in which Valentin Castellanos scored all four goals for the home side.

Ancelotti said: “We are doing well and we are playing an important game against the leader. We will try to do our best and arrive with a good dynamic.

“The team is a little tired, but excited. We’re going to do it well.”

Football's governing bodies must do more to protect referees amid a "considerable rise" in abuse that has often been met with a "silent" response.

That was the message from Ref Support chief executive Martin Cassidy, who referenced issues with Bruno Fernandes, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andrew Robertson in the Premier League this season.

Fernandes appeared to make contact with an assistant referee in Liverpool's 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United, while Mitrovic was banned for eight games after pushing Chris Kavanagh.

Robertson was another involved in an altercation with an official, when assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis seemingly made contact with the Liverpool left-back with his elbow, though the official faced no further punishment after an investigation.

A couple of seasons earlier, former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero came under scrutiny for placing his hand on the shoulder of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis during a home victory over Arsenal. 

Cassidy believes the response to the rise in these issues has been inadequate, calling on the likes of the League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to do more.

He told Stats Perform: "From a domestic point of view, what's been going on over here with the situations that [there has been] a considerable rise in contact with match officials from what's happened with Sian Massey-Ellis, Bruno Fernandes, Mitrovic, Robertson – it’s on the rise.

"When's it going to stop? And there are people who are silent on this who shouldn't be silent on this – the LMA, the PFA and even the Football Supporters' Association, they're all quiet on this, they comment on everything else.

"They will talk all these white papers and governments, and they tweet about enough is enough about things [that are important] to them, but they never come out and publicly condemn their behaviour by their members.

"The LMA never do it. We wrote to them, and we got a very benign, weak response. [The] PFA never say anything about the behaviour of their players – their members.

"Certainly, there never seems to be any stance from supporters associations who really want to stand up and say: 'Look, we are going to do something here, what's the protocols, what's the code of conduct for managers in the LMA, what is the code of conduct for a professional footballer with regard to how they behave with these post-match comments here?'

"So, there are a lot of silent people here who need to step up like the FA have in this country. When these people criticise the FA, the LMA and the PFA need to look at themselves and say what they are doing to address the situation that's caused directly by their members."

Cassidy acknowledged the problems span wider than English football, with the ill-tempered Europa League final between Roma and Sevilla marred by abuse of referee Anthony Taylor after the game.

Aside from refereeing issues, the ongoing racially motivated problems with Vinicius Junior and Spanish football continue – and Cassidy believes UEFA must improve.

"UEFA hasn't really got a good track record on what they've done with racism," he added. "So, they have been quite weak on that really and very erratic.

"Look at what has happened in Spain, they haven't really taken control of that. So, I'm not very hopeful that they'll respond to this in a manner that football wants it to respond to, but hopefully they prove us wrong.

"UEFA does, in particular with the UEFA foundation, some wonderful stuff. But when it comes to stuff like this, they don't seem to – look at what happened in the Champions League final last year, Liverpool-Real Madrid – they never really covered themselves in glory there.

"Let's take this opportunity, UEFA, let's make the game better. Let's come out hard and tough and let's send a message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable in our game."

LaLiga's handling of the "absolutely disgraceful" instances of racist abuse towards Vinicius Junior has been "completely inadequate".

That was the message from Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari after Vinicius was subjected to more abuse by sections of the crowd at Valencia's win over Real Madrid last Sunday.

Valencia's punishments for the incident were reduced on appeal, with the partial closure of Mestalla Stadium cut from five matches to three and their financial penalty also sliced.

Bhandari, chair of the organisation aiming to eradicate racism from football, says the Spanish Football Federation and LaLiga president Javier Tebas have failed to support Vinicius.

"I think the treatment we've seen of Vinicius has been absolutely disgraceful," Bhandari told Stats Perform at the Football Business Awards.

"It's 10 or 11 games, it's not just this last weekend, it's been happening over the course of the last two seasons.

"The response of the Spanish authorities has been completely inadequate and it's actually been worse than inadequate because it's made the matter worse.

"The way Javier Tebas, who runs LaLiga, responded trying to blame Vinicius and treating him as if he's a problem when actually he's the victim… it's really sort of going back 30 or 40 years."

Tebas was a vocal critic after Vinicius labelled LaLiga racist, the league's president criticising the 22-year-old for "not informing himself properly" before subsequently apologising for those comments.

The incident – and Tebas' reaction to it – sparked widespread condemnation of LaLiga and Spanish football's relationship with race, with Bhandari calling for further action on the issues.

He added: "They need to get on with taking more concrete steps to kick discrimination out of Spanish football, it's not acceptable to have whole stands of fans doing monkey chants.

"Making monkey noises and shouting monkey to Vinicius, that's totally unacceptable and there shouldn't be any deflection and making excuses for that kind of behaviour, which is what we have seen.

"They need to get on it and if that means closing the stand, that's a good step. We welcome that and fines are a move in the right direction.

"But if it doesn't stop that should move to points deductions and further sanctions."

Vinicius Junior watched on from the stands as his fellow Brazilian Rodrygo sealed a 2-1 victory for Real Madrid against Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga.

Madrid winger Vinicius was racially abused by Valencia supporters during Los Blancos' defeat at Mestalla Stadium on Sunday, with the winger then sent off.

With that red card rescinded, injury kept Vinicius from featuring against Rayo on Wednesday, though Karim Benzema's finish had seemingly set Madrid on their way to a comfortable victory.

Raul de Tomas' excellent strike pegged Madrid back, but Rodrygo lashed home in the 89th minute to lift Los Blancos, temporarily at least, into second place.

Rayo were the more threatening in the opening exchanges – Alvaro Garcia heading over between Unai Lopez and Santi Comesana forcing Thibaut Courtois into action.

Yet Madrid went ahead just after the half-hour mark as Rayo were caught napping at a drop-ball, which was taken quickly by Toni Kroos. Federico Valverde and Benzema combined brilliantly to put the latter through and, after coolly rounding Stole Dimitrievski, he tucked home.

Moments after an untimely slip from Rodrygo saw a golden chance go begging for Madrid, Dimitrievski brilliantly denied Benzema a second, instinctively sticking out a hand to keep a close-range shot out.

Dani Carvajal volleyed wide from Luka Modric's chip as Madrid looked to put the game to bed, a wise decision given their record of two defeats from their previous four meetings with Rayo.

Madrid's failure to add to their lead looked to have proved costly with six minutes remaining, substitute De Tomas thumping in a brilliant equaliser.

But Rodrygo had the last laugh with his powerful last-gasp strike, with the 22-year-old raising his right fist in a celebration synonymous with the "black power" salute.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has apologised for suggesting Vinicius Junior was being “manipulated” when the Real Madrid winger called out racism he has suffered in Spain.

The Brazil international took to social media to speak out after being abused in Sunday’s game at Valencia, saying it was a problem he had endured throughout the league.

Tebas’ response on Twitter, in which he said “Before you criticise and insult LaLiga, you need to inform yourself well, Vini Jr. Don’t let yourself be manipulated”, was roundly criticised for not addressing the issue and the LaLiga boss has now said sorry.


“I think that the message, and the intention I had, was not understood by a significant number (of people), especially in Brazil,” he told ESPN Brazil.

 

“I did not want to attack Vinicius, but if most people understood it that way, I need to apologise. It was not my intention, I expressed myself badly, at a bad time.

“But I had no intention of attacking Vinicius, but rather clarifying a situation, because Vinicius had recorded a video supporting LaLiga’s actions.”

Tebas, in defending the league’s approach – especially in relation to Vinicius – added: “If I hurt someone, they thought I was racist, it’s far from reality.

“I feel sorry for what happened, and that’s why we denounced it. And we didn’t just denounce it, we took special actions at his games.

“We spoke to the clubs, so that they could provide more security, identify fans. LaLiga takes care of Vinicius. And, if they misunderstood what happened I have to apologise.”

Vinicius threatened to leave the pitch in the second half at the Mestalla after being subjected to alleged monkey chants and Real, who said the incident constituted a “hate crime”, filed a complaint with the Spanish State Attorney General’s Office.

Valencia were given a partial stadium ban for five matches and fined 45,000 euros (£39,000) – a punishment the club called “totally disproportionate” as they confirmed they would lodge an appeal, while head coach Ruben Baraja vowed to fight back against “smears”.

England manager Gareth Southgate has led calls for stricter punishment since his side came close to walking off the field after players were subjected to racial abuse during a match in Bulgaria in 2019.

“It is a disgusting situation. I think it is so bad that it looks like it is going to force change. I am hoping there will be something positive to come from it,” Southgate said on Wednesday.

“If anyone suggests to me we don’t have a problem in society with racism then there is another example of what we are dealing with, and more examples of people burying their heads in the sand, quite frankly.

“Hopefully it is a story that doesn’t just disappear in 24-48 hours without there being some significant change.”

Vinicius, whose red card against Valencia on Sunday was rescinded, missed Real’s game at home to Rayo Vallecano with a minor knee complaint but was at the ground to see his team-mates wear shirts with his number and name on the back before kick-off.

Gareth Southgate believes the fight against racism in football may have reached a defining moment as the fall-out from the abuse levelled against Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior in Valencia last weekend continues.

The England boss has led calls for stricter punishment since his side came close to walking off the field after some players were subjected to racial abuse during a match in Bulgaria in 2019.

Vinicius threatened to leave the pitch in the second half of Sunday’s LaLiga match at the Mestalla after being subjected to alleged monkey chants from the crowd and Real Madrid, who said the incident constituted a “hate crime”, filed a complaint with the Spanish State Attorney General’s Office.

In response, Valencia were given a partial stadium ban for five matches plus a fine of 45,000 euros (£39,000) – a punishment the club called “totally disproportionate”, while Valencia head coach Ruben Baraja vowed to lead the fight back against what he described as “smears”.

Southgate said: “It is a disgusting situation. I think it is so bad that it looks like it is going to force change. I am hoping there will be something positive to come from it.

“If anyone suggests to me we don’t have a problem in society with racism then there is another example of what we are dealing with, and more examples of people burying their heads in the sand, quite frankly.

“Hopefully it is a story that doesn’t just disappear in 24-48 hours without there being some significant change.”

The action by the Spanish football federation (RFEF), who order that Valencia shut the Mario Kempes south stand, where the alleged abuse happened, for five matches, was strongly criticised by the club, who vowed to appeal.

That criticism was echoed by Baraja in a prepared statement prior to a press conference on Wednesday, in which he stressed he was “absolutely against racism”, but added: “I am not going to allow the Valencia CF fans and Mestalla to be smeared with labels that do not represent us.

“Just as a player rightly fights back against insults and I support that with all my might, we as a club and a fanbase rebel against those who, during the days since the game, have accused us of being what we are not.”

Earlier, Valencia had issued a robust statement against the ruling, saying: “Valencia CF wishes to show its total disagreement and indignation at the unfair and disproportionate penalty imposed by the competition committee on the club with the closure of the stand for five games.

“Valencia CF wants to publicly denounce that in this resolution of the RFEF competition committee they show evidence that contradicts what the national police and LaLiga say.

“In addition, this sanction is based on evidence that the club has not been able to see and without giving us a hearing.

“Valencia CF has condemned, condemns and will condemn in the most energetic way any act of racism or violence. These behaviours have no place in football or in society and we will continue to act in the most forceful way to eradicate this scourge.

“For this reason, Valencia CF is collaborating from the first minute with the police and all relevant authorities to clarify the events that occurred last Sunday.

“In addition, it has applied the maximum possible sanction with the expulsion for life from our stadium to the fans that the police have identified for their racist behaviour.

“For this reason we consider that penalising and depriving all the fans who were not involved in these unfortunate incidents from seeing their team is a totally disproportionate, unfair and unprecedented measure against which we will fight.

“The fight against racism requires the real commitment of all the parties involved without using it as a pretext to incur serious injustices.

“Valencia CF will appeal to the last instance the closure of the stand, a sanction that it considers totally unfair and one more offence in the latest disciplinary decisions that have been taken against the club. Valencia CF asks for the utmost respect and rigour for our institution and fans.”

In announcing the punishment against Valencia, the RFEF said in a statement: “The competition committee has sanctioned Valencia CF with the partial closure of the Mestalla stadium for five matches, more specifically the Mario Kempes south stand, following the events that occurred during the league match between the local team and Real Madrid CF.

“It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius, a Real Madrid CF player, during the aforementioned match, altering the normal course of the match and considering the infractions very serious.”

Valencia head coach Ruben Baraja has said his club will fight back against “smears” after they were handed a five-game partial stadium closure and hefty fine following the racist abuse aimed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior.

Speaking at a press conference, Baraja stressed he was “absolutely against racism”, but echoed Valencia’s earlier claim that the sanction was “unfair and disproportionate”, and added: “I am not going to allow the Valencia CF fans and Mestalla to be smeared with labels that do not represent us.

“Just as a player rightly fights back against insults and I support that with all my might, we as a club and a fanbase rebel against those who, during the days since the game, have accused us of being what we are not.”

Vinicius threatened to leave the pitch in the second half of Sunday’s LaLiga match at the Mestalla after being subjected to alleged monkey chants from the crowd and Real Madrid, who said the incident constituted a “hate crime”, filed a complaint with the Spanish State Attorney General’s Office.

In response, Valencia have been ordered to shut the Mario Kempes south stand, where the alleged abuse happened, for five matches and have also been fined 45,000 euros (£39,000) by the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

Reacting to that sanction, Valencia said in a strongly worded statement on Tuesday evening: “Valencia CF wishes to show its total disagreement and indignation at the unfair and disproportionate penalty imposed by the competition committee on the club with the closure of the stand for five games.

“Valencia CF wants to publicly denounce that in this resolution of the RFEF competition committee they show evidence that contradicts what the national police and LaLiga say.

“In addition, this sanction is based on evidence that the club has not been able to see and without giving us a hearing.

“Valencia CF has condemned, condemns and will condemn in the most energetic way any act of racism or violence. These behaviours have no place in football or in society and we will continue to act in the most forceful way to eradicate this scourge.

“For this reason, Valencia CF is collaborating from the first minute with the police and all relevant authorities to clarify the events that occurred last Sunday.

“In addition, it has applied the maximum possible sanction with the expulsion for life from our stadium to the fans that the police have identified for their racist behaviour.

“For this reason we consider that penalising and depriving all the fans who were not involved in these unfortunate incidents from seeing their team is a totally disproportionate, unfair and unprecedented measure against which we will fight.

“The fight against racism requires the real commitment of all the parties involved without using it as a pretext to incur serious injustices.

“Valencia CF will appeal to the last instance the closure of the stand, a sanction that it considers totally unfair and one more offence in the latest disciplinary decisions that have been taken against the club. Valencia CF asks for the utmost respect and rigour for our institution and fans.”

In announcing the punishment against Valencia, the RFEF said in a statement: “The competition committee has sanctioned Valencia CF with the partial closure of the Mestalla stadium for five matches, more specifically the Mario Kempes south stand, following the events that occurred during the league match between the local team and Real Madrid CF.

“It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius, a Real Madrid CF player, during the aforementioned match, altering the normal course of the match and considering the infractions very serious.”

LaLiga players and officials called for racism to be tackled in Spain in the wake of Sunday’s match.

Before Tuesday night’s games between Real Valladolid and Barcelona, and Celta Vigo and Girona, players from both sides, as well as the match officials, stood behind banners which read ‘Racism, out of football’.

LaLiga shared a pre-match clip from the Celta-Girona game on its official Twitter account with the hashtag #JUNTOSContraElRacismo (#TOGETHERagainstRacism).

The footage also showed a supporter holding up a placard with ‘No Al Racismo’ (No to Racism) written on it.

There were similar sentiments at the Valladolid-Barcelona game as fans showed their support for Brazil international Vinicius.

Barcelona forward Raphinha removed his shirt when substituted to show a message which read: “As long as the colour of the skin is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war.”

Vinicius was not included in Real’s 23-man squad for Wednesday night’s LaLiga match against Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu.

The forward’s red card against Valencia had been rescinded by the RFEF but the 22-year-old did not train on Tuesday, with Real coach Carlo Ancelotti saying the winger had some discomfort in his knee.

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