MADRID (AP)The hate attacks against Vinicius Junior are a problem of Spanish soccer and must be dealt with, his Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

Vinicius, a Brazilian forward who is Black, has been subjected to hate attacks since he arrived in Spain in 2018. The most recent were on Sunday at a Spanish league game in Mallorca. Last month, his effigy hung off a bridge in Madrid before the derby against Atletico Madrid.

”The question I ask is this: What does Vinicius have to defend himself against? What do his teammates have to defend themselves against?” Ancelotti said on Tuesday on the eve of Madrid’s debut at the Club World Cup in Morocco.

”Is Vinicius the problem? It seems like the problem is Vinicius, but the problem is what happens around him. Period.

”It is a problem of Spanish football. I am a part of Spanish football and I think it’s a problem that we have to solve. Because it seems that Vinicius is the culprit, but he is being the victim of something that I don’t understand.”

Vinicius has been outspoken about the insults and often complained on social media of how he’s been treated.

He was also targeted because of his dances while celebrating goals, and recently his teammates called attention to the high number of fouls he was receiving in games. Last week, Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista was sent off after a vicious foul on Vinicius in a league game.

”Vinicius is an incredible person, with great values,” teammate Federico Valverde said. ”He is different than most on the field, he enjoys soccer in his own way, in a happy way. I don’t think the rival fans are thinking about the person, they don’t realize that he could be the son of anyone who is in the stands. People need to be responsible for what they do, they shouldn’t take it out on a 22-year-old. You need to have respect.”

Racism in Spanish soccer has attracted more attention recently but little has been done to punish anyone.

The Spanish league investigated the attacks on Sunday at Mallorca after TV images showed someone calling him a monkey. Vinicius was also insulted after the match when he stopped to pose for photos and sign autographs for fans.

The league said Tuesday it filed a complaint with the courts in Mallorca. It had filed similar legal complaints in cases involving racist insults against Vinicius five other times, with three of them being archived and two still being analyzed.

Authorities have yet to find those responsible for hanging Vinicius’ effigy last month, and so far teams have not been punished for the racist insults inside their stadiums.

The first trial against a fan who racially insulted a player in Spain is expected to begin this year following remarks by an Espanyol supporter against Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams a few years ago.

Mallorca defender Antonio Raillo said last year that Vinicius was using the card of racism when accused of provoking opponents. Other players have complained of the Brazilian’s attitude on the field as well.

Madrid will face Egyptian club Al Ahly on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Club World Cup. Madrid has won the world club title a record seven times, including three times when the competition was called the Intercontinental Cup.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter:

More AP soccer: and