Soccer Fans Sentenced to Prison Over Racist Abuse

3 fans in Spain got 8-month sentences for racist harassment of Real Madrid forward
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 11, 2024 3:00 AM CDT
A First in Spain: Soccer Fans Convicted for Racist Abuse
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior waves after winning the Champions League final soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, June 1, 2024.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Three Valencia fans have been handed eight-month prison sentences after pleading guilty to racially insulting Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior in the first conviction for racism-related cases in professional soccer in Spain, the AP reports. The fans, whose names were not released, won't be allowed to enter soccer stadiums for two years and will have to pay for the court proceedings. They were detained after a Spanish league match between Real Madrid and Valencia at Mestalla Stadium in May 2023. The match was briefly stopped after Vinícius was insulted. That incident sparked an outpouring of support for Vinícius, who is Black, and set off widespread calls for action by Spanish authorities and society in general.

Many saw it as a turning point in the fight against racism in Spanish soccer, although Vinícius continued to be subjected to racist abuse several months after the initial uproar that accompanied the incident at Mestalla. The sentence found the defendants guilty of a crime against moral integrity with the aggravating circumstance of discrimination based on racist motives. The fans, who were sitting behind one of the goals at Mestalla, made monkey gestures and sounds toward Vinícius, who immediately called for the attention of the referee and pointed to the fans in the stands. The Brazil forward had tears in his eyes as fans throughout the stadium continued to jeer him.

(More Real Madrid stories.)

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