LaLiga president Javier Tebas apologised on Wednesday for his online rant at Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr after the Br azilian took to social media to complain about racist insults he suffered during a match and the Spanish league's inaction.
The game against Valencia on Sunday was halted for 10 minutes as Br azilian Vinicius pointed out fans who were abusing him before he was involved in an altercation with Valencia players which led to him being sent off.
"Well, it seems the result has not been very good, right?" Tebas told Reuters in an interview, referring to his much-criticised comments on Twitter in which he suggested that Vinicius find out more about what the league is doing to combat racism “before you criticise and slander LaLiga”.
"I mean, to all those who have understood that this was an error due to the form, due to the time ... I have to apologise,” he said, adding that it was not his intention to attack Vinicius and blaming “the heat of the moment".
"I apologise to Vinicius and to anyone that understood that I was attacking Vinicius."
Tebas said he shared the 22-year-old's frustration over the lack of action to eradicate racism in Spain, and took aim at soccer organisers and Spanish authorities, saying neither were doing enough to clamp down on racism.
He said that he felt “impotent” to tackle racism in soccer as under Spanish law LaLiga can only detect and report racist incidents.
He urged legislative changes so LaLiga can have sanctioning powers, such as the closure of stands or the expulsion of club members, to be able to fight racism more effectively.
"If we were given those capabilities, we would end this in a matter in months," Tebas said, blaming a lack of willingness by “those who have the power to impose it”.
Valencia's south stand will be partially closed for five matches and the club was fined €45,000 (R931,000) after the abuse suffered by Vinicius.
Sunday's abuse in Valencia was the 10th episode of alleged racism against Vinicius that LaLiga has reported to prosecutors this season, according to Tebas, who says he has done everything in his power to tackle the issue.
Police detained seven men on Tuesday over separate alleged hate crime incidents against Vinicius.
"I think it's pretty safe to say that the explosion that happened led to the actions and let's hope it stays like this," Tebas said, warning that without more sanctioning powers for his organisation, changes would be “more cosmetic than real”.
"If we continue with the status quo, we in LaLiga have our doubts," he said.
Vinicius's red card from Sunday's match at Valencia was rescinded, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said on Tuesday.
The Br azilian winger was sent off in stoppage time by referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea for striking an opponent after a scuffle with Valencia players in which Vinicius appeared to be grabbed around the neck.
Vinicius had earlier been racially abused by fans at the Mestalla Stadium, which led to the game being halted for 10 minutes as the player pointed out people who were abusing him in the stands.
Police detained seven men on Tuesday over separate alleged hate crime incidents against Vinicius as the league urged changes to Spanish law that would enable it to take steps to curb racism in stadiums.
A hate crime investigation was opened after an inflatable effigy dressed in the No 20 jersey of winger Vinicius Jr was hung from a bridge in front of the club's training grounds. Alongside it was a 16m red and white banner — the colours of rival team Atletico Madrid — that read “Madrid hates Real”.
Four men were arrested in Madrid, police said, three of whom were members of “a radical group of fans of a Madrid club”, who were previously flagged during matches as “high risk” to help curb violence during games.
Three men were also arrested in Valencia for racist conduct aimed at Vinicius Jr in Sunday's match, police said on Twitter.