Spain Arrests 7 After Black Soccer Star Racially Abused

There was an outpouring of support after Vinicius Junior was racially abused during Valencia match
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2023 10:15 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2023 7:57 PM CDT
Spanish Soccer 'Now Belongs to Racists'
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, confronts Valencia fans in front of Valencia's Jose Luis Gaya during a Spanish La Liga match between Valencia and Real Madrid at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
UPDATE May 23, 2023 7:57 PM CDT

Spanish police took action Tuesday after the latest case of abuse against Vinícius Júnior, arresting seven people accused of racially insulting the Real Madrid player. Spanish soccer officials also acted, fining Valencia $48,500 and closing part of the team's stadium for the next five games, the AP reports. Three people were detained in Valencia for alleged abuse against the Brazilian forward in Sunday's match between Valencia and Madrid. Four were arrested in Madrid for allegedly hanging an effigy of the player off a highway bridge in January. The arrests came after an outpouring of support for Vinícius after he said he was abused in Valencia. The case prompted widespread reaction from sports figures and government officials in Spain and worldwide.

May 22, 2023 10:15 AM CDT

Spanish soccer is again embroiled in racism, with support for Vinicius Junior growing rapidly after yet another case of abuse against the Brazilian forward this weekend. Vinicius on Sunday considered leaving the field after being insulted by fans during Real Madrid's 1-0 loss at Valencia. Vinicius said after the match the Spanish league "now belongs to racists" and that Spain "is seen as a racist country." "Full solidarity to Vinicius," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said, per the AP. "There is no place for racism in football or in society, and FIFA stands by all players who have found themselves in such a situation." Support for Vinicius, who's Black and has been subjected to racist abuse since he arrived to play in Spain five years ago, came from current and former stars. "You're not alone," France forward Kylian Mbappe said on Instagram. "We are with you and we support you."

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several of his Cabinet ministers also backed Vinicius and criticized Spanish soccer. "It is not fair that a poor boy who is winning in his life, becoming one of the best in the world, certainly the best at Real Madrid, is insulted in every stadium he goes to," Lula said. Many were calling for solutions after the repeated racist attacks against Vinicius. "Another case of racism against Vinicius in the Spanish league," said former Brazil striker Ronaldo, who spent five seasons playing for Real Madrid in the 2000s. "Until when? As long as there is impunity, there will be racism." Real Madrid said it "strongly" condemned the abuse against Vinicius and that it formally denounced the case to Spanish prosecutors. "These events represent a direct attack on the social and democratic model of coexistence of our state based on the rule of law," the club said.

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The Spanish league has made nine similar formal complaints for racist abuse against Vinicius over the last two seasons, but most of the cases have been shelved by prosecutors. Another complaint was expected to be made after an investigation into what happened in Valencia was completed. Fans have been fined and banned from stadiums for their abuse, but so far only a Mallorca fan may end up going on trial for allegedly racially insulting the Brazilian during a game. "It wasn't the first time, or the second or the third. Racism is normal in La Liga," Vinicius said on Instagram and Twitter on Sunday. "The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo ... and [Lionel] Messi now belongs to racists."

(More soccer stories.)

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