7 people arrested in Spain linked to racial abuse cases against Vinícius Júnior

7 people arrested in Spain linked to racial abuse cases against Vinícius Júnior

MADRID (AP) — Seven people accused of racist abuse of Real Madrid player Vinícius Júnior have been arrested in Spain, police said Tuesday.

Three have been arrested in Valencia for alleged abuse against Vinícius in a Spanish league game on Sunday. Four have been arrested in Madrid for allegedly hanging an effigy of the player on a road bridge in January.

The arrests come after an outpouring of support for Vinícius after he said he was mistreated at Valencia. The case has drawn widespread backlash from sports figures and government officials in Spain and around the world.

The nation has been criticized for its lack of action in cases of racism in football. Brazilian government officials, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, have publicly expressed their concerns.

Vinícius, who is black, has been the victim of repeated racist teasing since arriving in Spain five years ago, and especially this season after he started celebrating his goals by dancing.

The Brazilian has strongly criticized Spanish football for not doing more to stop racism.

The game against Valencia was temporarily halted after Vinícius said a fan behind one of the goals called him a monkey and made monkey gestures at him. Vinícius considered leaving the pitch but eventually continued playing.

Vinícius’ effigy was hung around the neck the morning of a derby match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey. There was also a banner with the words ‘Madrid hate Madrid’.

The perpetrators used a black figure with the name Vinícius, tied a rope around his neck and hung him from an overpass while it was still dark in the Spanish capital.

Police said three of those arrested belonged to one of Atletico’s fan groups and the other was a supporter of the group. Some had prior reservations with the police for other crimes.

The hate message on the banner is often used by hardcore Atletico fans, although at the time they denied being responsible for the display.

The men arrested are between 19 and 24 years old. Authorities said some had already been identified at matches considered to be at high risk of violence. Police showed footage of them arriving handcuffed and escorted by officers on Tuesday.

Spanish media said police used security cameras to identify the perpetrators, but no action had been taken so far. Police did not say whether the timing of the arrests had to do with the widespread attention sparked by the latest abuse against Vinícius on Sunday.

The lights of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were turned off on Monday night in a show of solidarity with Vinícius.

“It’s a moving solidarity action,” Vinícius said on Twitter. “But more than anything, what I want is to inspire and bring more light to our fight.”

Vinícius thanked all the support he has received in recent months in Brazil and abroad.

“I know who you are,” he said. “Count on me, because the good guys are in the majority and I’m not going to give up. I have a purpose in life, and if I have to continue to suffer so that future generations will not have to go through these kinds of situations, I am ready and prepared.

Valencia banned a fan identified for insulting Vinícius during the match for life. Real Madrid took the case to prosecutors as a hate crime.

The Spanish league have filed nine racial abuse criminal complaints against Vinícius in the past two seasons, most of them dismissed by prosecutors.

The league said on Tuesday it would seek to increase its power to impose penalties for hate crimes during games. He had said he could only detect and report the incidents to the authorities and the country’s football federation.

Fans have been fined and banned from stadiums for their abuse of Vinícius but so far only one Mallorca fan could face trial for allegedly insulting the Brazilian during a match.

The first trial against a fan accused of racial slurs in Spanish professional football is expected to take place at some point this year; the case involved Athletic Bilbao striker Iñaki Williams, who was insulted by an Espanyol fan during a match in 2020.


Azzoni Tales on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni


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