FC Barcelona coach Xavi said that he hopes Saturday’s El Clásico can be played with “mutual admiration” after a board member at the club deleted a derogatory social media post about Real Madrid forward Vinícius Jr.
Earlier this week, Miquel Camps, the deputy spokesperson for Barcelona’s board of directors, posted about Vinícius’ play during Real Madrid’s Champions League match against Sporting Braga on X, formerly known as Twitter, by calling the player a “clown.”
In the now-deleted post, Camps wrote: “It’s not racism, he deserves a slap for being a clown and a joker, what do these unnecessary and meaningless stepovers mean in the middle of the pitch.”
CNN has contacted Camps via his personal company and Barcelona for comment. Neither Real Madrid nor Vinícius have publicly commented on the tweet.
Vinícius has been the subject of racist abuse multiple times throughout his career in Spain, most recently while playing for Los Blancos against Sevilla last Saturday.
The Brazilian has spoken out multiple times about the racism he has received and, amid questions about whether they have done enough, Spanish soccer and legal authorities are ramping up their efforts to combat the abuse.
Vinícius testified earlier this month in a Spanish court about a racist incident which took place in the Mestalla Stadium when Madrid played Valencia. Three people were arrested for allegedly making racist remarks towards the player and are being accused of committing a hate crime.
Asked about Camps’ tweet after Barça’s 2-1 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, Blaugrana manager Xavi told reporters: “Well, if [Camps] deleted it, it already means something. No need for me to say anything. If he deleted it, we leave it with that.”
He added: “I don’t like tension. I think that we have to have a Clásico with a lot of fair play, with a lot of respect and, as I said before, with mutual admiration. And playing football, nothing else. We’ve lived some Clásicos with a lot of tension and it won’t be me to generate this tension.”
Saturday’s El Clásico – one of the oldest and most famous rivalries in soccer, which has featured intense and controversial incidents throughout the years – sees the first- and third-placed teams in La Liga face each other with just one point separating them in the table.
Following last Saturday’s game between Sevilla and Real Madrid, the Andalusian club said that a member of the public had been ejected from the stadium, handed to legal authorities and will now have their membership revoked due to racist behavior.
Footage and pictures widely posted on social media show a man performing monkey gestures towards Vinícius during the match.
Writing on X about the incident, Vinícius said: “I hope the Spanish authorities do their bit and change the legislation once and for all. These people have to be punished criminally too.”
In a statement, Sevilla said that the club “condemns all racist and xenophobic behaviour and will work closely with the authorities to ensure that action is taken accordingly. This behaviour does not belong at Sevilla FC.”
On Wednesday, Rafael Yuste, Barcelona’s vice-president for sport, called Camps’ post an “inopportune slip-up.”
He told Movistar+ following Barça’s win over Shakhtar: “We’ve spoken with him and he, as well as all of the board of directors, have to think that we’re representing the club. And even if it’s an inopportune slip-up, it shouldn’t be done.
“Yuste said that he wasn’t aware if Barcelona had apologized to Vinícius or Real Madrid, adding: “If the player is hearing me, Vinícius, I’m telling him that, on behalf of the vice-president for sport, it’s an unfortunate tweet and it won’t happen again, either from my colleague Miquel Camps or from any other director.”
After Madrid’s match against Braga on Tuesday, Vinícius’ teammate, Rodrygo, told reporters that Camps’ post was “regrettable” and “really ugly.”
According to multiple reports in Spanish media, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez will not travel to Barcelona for Saturday’s El Clásico because of Camps’ tweet and Barcelona’s subsequent silence on the matter.