Three Valencia Fans Sentenced for Racist Abuse of Vinicius Junior

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

“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 color of his skin,” the court said in a statement.

“These shouts and gestures of a racist nature, including imitating the sounds and movements of monkeys, caused the footballer feelings of frustration, shame, and humiliation, thereby undermining his intrinsic dignity.”

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

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 that LaLiga will identify, report, and ensure criminal consequences for those who insult in stadiums,” LaLiga president Javier Tebas said.

The incident occurred at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium in May last year, when racist slurs were hurled at Vinicius, who is Black, during a league match. This led to an outpouring of support for the Brazilian forward and galvanized 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,” LaLiga stated on Monday.

Real Madrid noted that the defendants had shown repentance and, in their letter, had “asked fans to banish all traces of racism and intolerance from sporting competitions.”

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

The 23-year-old Vinicius helped Real Madrid win the LaLiga title and the Champions League this past season. He was named the Champions League’s player of the season and is one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player in October.

Sixteen incidents of racist abuse against Vinicius have been reported to Spanish prosecutors by LaLiga in the last two seasons.

In March, Vinicius broke down in tears at a press conference, saying he was struggling to stay motivated and enjoy playing football due to the recurring abuse, urging Spanish authorities to take action.

“People should know that this type of act is punishable, as a hate crime, because the conviction is for crimes against moral integrity with the aggravating circumstance of hatred,” state prosecutor Susana Gisbert told reporters.

In April, Spanish TV station Movistar Plus+ fired analyst German Burgos after Barcelona and Paris St. Germain refused to give interviews to the network following a comment he made about Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal, which was interpreted as racist.

In the same month, Atletico Madrid and Getafe were ordered to partially close their stands following racist and xenophobic abuse in a LaLiga game. A third-division match between Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River was suspended after Rayo’s Senegalese goalkeeper, Cheikh Kane Sarr, confronted a rival fan who he said was racially abusing him.

Share this…

Piers Potter


S'il vous plaît entrez votre commentaire!
S'il vous plaît entrez votre nom ici