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Soccer star Vinícius Júnior breaks down in tears while talking about racist insults: "I'm losing my desire to play"

England soccer players receive racist abuse
England soccer players racially abused after defeat to Italy in final 04:05

Vinícius Júnior broke down in tears on Monday while talking about the racist insults that he has been subjected to in Spain, saying that he is losing his desire to keep playing because of what he has been going through.

Vinícius spoke freely about his struggles fighting against racism on the eve of the "One Skin" friendly game between Spain and Brazil on Tuesday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which was set up to raise awareness about racism nearly a year after the Brazil international was racially insulted at a Spanish league game in Valencia.

"It's something very sad what I have been going through here," Vinícius said. "It's tough. I've been fighting against this for a long time. It's exhausting because you feel like you are alone. I've made so many official complaints but no one is ever punished."

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Vinicius Junior breaks down in tears during a press conference after a training session of the Brazil team ahead of a friendly soccer match against Spain on Monday March 25, 2024, in Valdebebas, Madrid, Spain. Oscar J. Barroso / AP

The Spain-Brazil game is taking place just days after a new wave of racist and hate insults targeted Vinícius in matches in Spain.

"More and more I'm losing my desire to play," he said. "But I'll keep fighting."

The 23-year-old Real Madrid player had to recompose himself a couple of times after crying during Brazil's pre-match news conference at Madrid's training camp.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I just want to keep playing soccer. I just want to keep doing everything that I can for my club and for my family."

Vinícius said it would have been easier to quit fighting, but said he "was chosen to defend this important cause."

Vinícius said he hasn't considered leaving the Spanish league because of the insults, saying "that would give the racists what they really want."

"I'll stay here, playing for the best club in the world and scoring goals and winning titles," he said. "And people will have to keep seeing my face for a long time."

Vinícius said he feels the support from other players in the Spanish league and doesn't consider Spain a racist country, but he thinks "there are many racists in Spain and many of them go to the stadiums."

"That needs to change," he said. "Maybe people don't really know what racism is. I'm 23 and I have to teach many people about racism, and about how it affects me and how it affects my family at home."

Vinícius acknowledged that at times he needs to improve his attitude on the field, but said he hoped "people would talk less about what he does wrong" and more about the insults against him.

Vinícius, who also asked for help from FIFA, UEFA and other institutions in his fight, said he has been studying a lot about racism and feels like he is better prepared to talk about the subject.

In January, FIFA president Gianni Infantino advocated for the introduction of automatic forfeits for teams whose fans racially abuse opposition players, CBS Sports reported.

Racism has plagued the sport for years -- both on and off the pitch.

Last April, New York Red Bulls forward Dante Vanzeir was suspended for six games by Major League Soccer for using racist language during a game against the San Jose Earthquakes.

In 2021, three Black players were targeted with racist abuse after England's loss to Italy in the European Championship finals. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka helped carry the team through the tournament, but they missed penalty shots in the final match against Italy, sparking a torrent of racist abuse online.

In 2017, midfielder Everton Luiz left the field in tears after persistent racist chants during his team's victory over Rad in the Serbian league.

At the 2014 World Cup,  two Argentine fans were arrested for taunting a black player as a "little monkey."

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