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Racist taunts at Real Madrid’s Vinicíus Júnior earns 3 fans historic jail sentence

Real Madrid UEFA Champions League Trophy Parade
Photo by Pedro Castillo/Real Madrid via Getty Images

In a first for Spanish soccer, 3 Valencia supporters are facing jail time for racial abuse of a player

In what is being described as a first in Spanish soccer, three Valencia supporters are facing jail time after being convicted of crime against moral integrity — aggravated by racially motivated discrimination — under Article 173.1 of Spain’s Criminal Code.

Their actions? Racial taunts and abuse directed at Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior, during a LaLiga game that took place back in May of 2023.

During that match, which Valencia won 1-0, Vinícius identified a fan in the crowd who had been racially abusing him, causing the match to be stopped. The three supporters, who were sitting behind one of the goals, made monkey gestures and sounds toward Vinícius, who immediately called attention of the referee and pointed to the fans in the stands.

The fans were detained during the match, and Valencia had already banned the three fans from their stadium following the incident. However, the matter did not stop there, as Real Madrid — in conjunction with LaLiga, the Spanish soccer federation, and Vinícius — brought the matter to the court system.

Fans have faced similar charges before in Spain, but in previous cases prosecutors declined to pursue the matters.

This time was different.

The supporters were convicted on Monday and face a sentence of a year in prison. However, that initial sentence was reduced to eight months, as all three accepted criminal responsibility and demonstrated remorse through a public letter of apology.

Attorneys for the three defendants requested that the period of incarceration be suspended by the judge, and prosecutors did not object to that request. That request will be ruled on at a later date. They also received a three-year stadium ban, reduced to two years for their public apology as well as the fact they accepted criminal responsibility, and will have to pay costs.

Real Madrid released a statement on Monday, outlining how the club will continue working to “eradicate racist behavior” in the sport.

“The three accused have accepted their criminal responsibility and have made public a letter of apology addressed to Vinícius Júnior, Real Madrid C.F. and other people who felt denigrated and offended by their behavior,” read the statement.

“This is the first conviction for acts of this nature handed down by criminal courts and tribunals.

“Real Madrid, which participated in this prosecution together with Vinícius Júnior, will continue working to protect the values of our club and eradicate any racist behavior in the world of football and sport.”

Vinícius shared his reaction on social media.

“Many people asked me to ignore it, others said that my fight was in vain and that I should just ‘play football’,” Vinícius said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“But, as I’ve always said, I’m not a victim of racism. I am an executioner of racists. This first criminal conviction in Spanish history is not for me. It’s for all black people.

“Let the other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I’ll be here to call them out. Thank you to LaLiga and Real Madrid for helping to bring about this historic condemnation. There’s more to come.”

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