Real Madrid’s first choice left back Marcelo was the target of racial abuse from Atlético Madrid fans on Wednesday, with visiting supporters at the Santiago Bernabéu calling the Brazilian international a “monkey” while he took part in post-match exercises. The 25-year-old also heard Atleti supporters yell “May your father die” as his son went to embrace him after the initial abuse.
The incident came after Real Madrid’s 3-0 victory over their rivals in the first leg of the teams’ Copa del Rey semifinal. Marcelo was left out of the starting lineup in favor of Portuguese international Fabio Coentrao but still took part in the team’s post-match warm down about 20 minutes after the final whistle.
That’s when traveling Atlético fans, remaining in the stadium as the rest of the Bernabéu was emptied, targeted the Merengues’ left back. According to The Guardian’s Sid Lowe:
… the only supporters left in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium were around 500 Atlético fans high in the north stand. As Marcelo ran towards them, they launched into monkey chants which were clearly audible in the virtually empty arena.
… They then chanted: “Marcelo is a monkey.” When Marcelo’s young son came out and hugged his father soon after, the chant changed to: “May your father die.”
Spain has a reputation for racism toward black players, with talents like former Mallorca and Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o having to deal with similar racial abuse. In an interview last year, Brazilian international Daniel Alves claimed he’d experienced a decade of racism in Spain between his time at Sevilla (where he arrived in 2002) and Barcelona.
That this most recent incident happened under the spotlight of a Madrid derbi will thrust the issue center stage, even if players like Alves already consider the problem to be “a lost war.”