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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Valencia fans convicted for racist abuse against Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr

In Spain, prison sentences of less than two years for non-violent crimes rarely require a defendant without previous convictions to serve jail time so the three are likely to remain free unless they commit further offences

Reuters Madrid Published 11.06.24, 10:52 AM
Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior.

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior. File image

Three Valencia football fans were sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday for hate crimes against Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr, the first conviction for racist insults in a football stadium in Spain, the court announced.

"The ruling handed down today, which is final, establishes as proven that the three defendants insulted Vinicius with shouts, gestures and chants referring to the colour of his skin," the court said in a statement.

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"These shouts and gestures of a racist nature, consisting among other things in the repetition of the sounds and imitating the movements of monkeys, caused the footballer feelings of frustration, shame and humiliation, with the consequent undermining of his intrinsic dignity."

In Spain, prison sentences of less than two years for non-violent crimes rarely require a defendant without previous convictions to serve jail time so the three are likely to remain free unless they commit further offences.

The three supporters, who pleaded guilty to the charges, were also banned from entering football stadiums for two years and ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

"This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain as it repairs the damage suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to insult that La Liga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them," La Liga president Javier Tebas said.

The events happened at Valencia's Mestalla stadium in May last year, when racist slurs were hurled at Vinicius, who is Black, during a league match.

They led to an outpouring of support for the Brazilian forward and galvanised a series of local and international campaigns, including the creation of a Fifa anti-racism committee made up of players.

"During the hearing, the defendants read a letter of apology to Vinicius Jr, LaLiga and Real Madrid," La Liga said in a statement on Monday.

Real Madrid said the defendants had shown repentance and, in their letter, had "asked fans that all traces of racism and intolerance should be banished from sporting competitions."

"Real Madrid, which together with Vinicius Jr has acted as private prosecutor in these proceedings, will continue to work to protect the values of our club and to eradicate any racist behaviour in the world of football and sport," the club added in a statement.

Sixteen incidents of racist abuse against the 23-year-old Vinicius have been reported to Spanish prosecutors by La Liga in the last two seasons.

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