It is one of the most watched soccer leagues in the world and features some of the best players on the planet. Except that this week nobody is talking about the 'beautiful game' after the shameful racist insult of the Real Madrid starVinicius jr.SentThe leaguein crisis management mode.
It was only after the 10th reported incident of targeted racial abuse.Viniciusduring aGame of La Liga 2021, this time in Valencia on Sunday, Spanish football and the country's legal system finally got going.
Only on Tuesday seven arrests were made by the police, according to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).launched a new campaign against racismand ordered the partial closure of the Valencia stadium and formally asked LaLiga for the power to sanction to better combat racism.
LaLiga told CNN that it has no power to impose sanctions on clubs or fans. Instead, he should turn over investigations into incidents of racial abuse to local prosecutors, who treat them like legal cases.
But what caused this sudden flurry of activity after Incident #10, when nine previous incidents of racist abuse were apparently not enough to trigger significant action?
The answer, according to a former marketing chief, is money and fame.
Vinicius Junior points to a fan in the stands who allegedly racially abused him during the Real Madrid match in Valencia.
For the first time, Vinícius, one of the world's most talented and recognizable players, has hinted that his future may not lie in the Iberian nation, while the Spanish media was abuzz with suggestions that these incidents would impede Spain's joint bid for The World Cup 2030 - with Portugal, Morocco and Ukraine - an event that could bring billions of dollars to the country.
richard strong, former director of global sponsorships for Visa and Coca-Cola, said brands that have sponsorship deals with La Liga could even start reviewing those deals.
“Sponsors, if they do their job, have their PR teams track how engaged they are in the conversation or how often their brands are mentioned on social media and in the press,” Fort said.cnn sport.
“They probably have a statement ready to go if they feel they need it, but they're probably holding back to only use it if it's really, really necessary. All of them are trying to stay out of the conversation so as not to be associated with the problem.
"Behind the scenes, they are also calling the people who have to manage their relationships in LaLiga, to ask them to update themselves and understand what their plan is. Some of the main executives may be questioning the marketing teams if this is something sustainable or sustainable". if they should continue to be associated with LaLiga”.
"Why did we connect to this?"
Fort compares the current situation in Spain with its consequencesFIFA corruption scandalem 2015.
Swiss police at the time made several arrests during a raid on a hotel where FIFA officials were staying, withmany senior officials are accusedwith accusations of money laundering, fraud and extortion, possibly the biggest scandal to ever hit world football.
At the time, Fort was working for Visa, one of FIFA's main sponsors, and says there is "a lot of pressure" from many quarters on organizations like FIFA and LaLiga in crisis management situations like these.
Fort says the chief executives have called Sepp Blatter to ask him to step down as FIFA president.
“You have the press asking for a statement, you have investor relations, big shareholders in all these companies asking questions,” says Fort.
"You have board members calling the CEO to ask what the company is going to do, you have, as the case may be, employees saying, 'Why are we associated with this?'"
In a meeting with his sponsors in Zurich, Fort said FIFA had presented its plan to form an independent ethics committee. However, when the CEOs of FIFA's sponsors were not appeased by the plan, they calledthen President Joseph Blatterrequire changes in management.
"I know that the CEO of Coca-Cola at the time, Muhtar Kent, called Sepp Blatter and said, 'Yep, it's time for you to go,'" Fort recalled. “Well, that's the kind of thing that, if a solution isn't on the horizon, some CEOs might do.
"There is a loss of confidence in LaLiga's ability to manage the crisis and find solutions," adds Fort. "Now if I were a patron, I would demand management changes, and that starts with the president."
Earlier this week, RFEF boss Luis Rubiales took to Twitter to criticize La Liga president Javier Tebas, who was involved in an altercation with Vinicius after Sunday's game.
"The directors are not here to engage with social networks, we are here to try to solve problems, and this footballer was seriously attacked," Rubiales said.
"I think that Javier Tebas is not prepared, equipped or interested in solving the problem," adds Fort.
Javier Tebas has been criticized for LaLiga's handling of racist abuse.
While removing an organization's president "is not very effective in finding a solution" to the situation, Fort explains, it at least shows donors that the organization is "willing" to make big changes.
"This is important," he says.
La Liga was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNN, but Tebas apologized on Wednesday, saying it "did not intend to attack Vinícius".
"But if the people in Brazil understood it that way, I have to apologize," he said.ESPN Brazil. "That was not my intention. I spoke badly, at a bad moment... but I had no intention of attacking Vinicius."
A banner at the Santiago Bernabéu reads "We are all Vinicius, enough" before Real Madrid's match against Rayo Vallecano.
The fallout from the incident at Valencia's Mestalla stadium on Sunday took a diplomatic turn as Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and other government officials became involved.
Brazil's Racial Equality Minister Aniel Franco said on Monday he had already called the Spanish Public Ministry and Spain's Deputy Prime Minister to investigate, while Brazil's Justice Minister Flavio Dino tweeted about the possibility of "extraterritoriality." " - applying Brazil. laws in Spain – in case the Spanish authorities do not protect Vinícius.
The incident even prompted comments from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, who said the incident at the Mestalla stadium "is a stark reminder of the prevalence of racism in sport."
"I call on those who organize sporting events to have strategies to prevent and combat racism," he added.
A US State Department spokesman also condemned the racist chants against Vinicius, calling them "terrible".
Fort estimates that many of LaLiga's sponsorship deals can range from $5 million to $10 million per season. a "substantial" amount, he says, but certainly not a "substantial" financial impact, given LaLiga's revenue.
In accordance withReuters, LaLiga expects the total value of its transaction to grow from $26 billion to almost $38 billion in seven to 10 years.
However, what "could really hurt" La Liga is the continued impact on its reputation, which would worsen if sponsors cancel their deals with the league, according to Fort.
“If a well-known brand pulls out because they don't trust LaLiga's commitment to fighting racism, I think it will have an impact for them the next time they sign broadcast or sponsorship deals,” says Fort.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro, turned off the lights in solidarity with Vinícius.
It could also give rivals a boost, as other European leagues take advantage of the chaos in LaLiga.
On Tuesday, Italian Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo said the league would have a “zero tolerance» approach to racist fans, according to Reuters.
"If you're from Serie A, Ligue 1 or the Bundesliga, you're going to talk about racism in every sales pitch you make for years to come," says Fort.
“You'll tell your prospects that unlike other countries, you don't have a racism problem. I think this will hurt LaLiga commercially.
“We don't know the extent, but I think it will happen over time, and they may not lose money. They know they may not have lower income, but they will grow more slowly than they otherwise might have.”