La Liga president Javier Tebas has thrown his support behind Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr, claiming the young Brazilian forward is destined to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
Tebas’ glowing praise comes just days after the 22-year-old publicly criticized La Liga and Spain for racism following abusive chants from Valencia fans.
In a statement on social media, Tebas clarified that his previous comments regarding the racism incident were “misinterpreted.”
He affirmed that Vinicius Jr was targeted because he is an exceptionally talented player. “Vini Jr is being insulted because he’s a great player. We want him to continue in Spanish football and to understand what we are doing against racism,” Tebas told COPE.
Tebas boldly predicted that Vinicius Jr will win the Ballon d’Or, awarded annually to the world’s best footballer, in the future.
Javier Tebas Sees Ballon d’Or Potential in Vinicius Jr.
“On several occasions, I have said that I think Vini is going to be a Ballon d’Or winner one day,” Tebas proclaimed. He even went so far as to tout Vinicius Jr as the heir apparent to Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s legendary seven-time Ballon d’Or winner. “They asked me who was the player who could replace Messi and I answered Vinicius,” Tebas revealed.
The high praise from Tebas is a remarkable turnaround just days after Vinicius Jr publicly criticized La Liga’s handling of racist abuse.
The Brazilian FA also took umbrage with Tebas’ initial statement. La Liga has since taken action, demanding Valencia partially close their stadium for five matches and pay a significant fine.