New Delhi: The Spanish police have detained seven men over separate alleged hate crime incidents against Real Madrid football player Vinicius Jr. as La Liga urged changes to Spanish law that would enable it to take steps to curb racism in the stadium, Reuters reported.
Football club Valencia CF has also been fined €45,000.
Footballer Vinicius’s late red card has been rescinded, reported BBC Sport, which means “he will not have to serve a suspension.” The decision to ask the Spanish club to close part of its stadium for the next five games is unprecedented.
Valencia CF termed the decision to partially close their stadium “disproportionate, unjust and unprecedented” and said they intend to appeal against the order to close part of its stadium.
“Valencia have collaborated from the first minute with the police and all relevant authorities to clarify the events that occurred,” a statement from the club read.
“In addition, we have applied the maximum possible sanction with the ban for life from our stadium for racist behaviour of the fans identified by police.”
The closure will apply to the Mestalla Stadium’s south stand. This constitutes the area where a furious and emotional Vinicius was seen during Sunday’s second half before he reported the issue.
He was sent off in the 97th minute, but his red card has now been overturned. He will be able to play in the next game against Real Vallecano if he recovers from a knee injury.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has said that the referee’s decision to dismiss Vinicius was because he was “deprived of a decisive part of the facts”, as it was “impossible for him to properly assess what happened”.
Explaining the partial stadium closure, the RFEF said: “It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius.” Real Madrid issued a statement on Monday saying that it “considers that such attacks also constitute a hate crime”.
In a further statement on social media on Monday, Vinicius said: “What is missing to criminalise these people? And punish the clubs sportively? Why don’t the sponsors charge La Liga? Don’t the televisions bother to broadcast this barbarity every weekend?”
A cada rodada fora de casa uma surpresa desagradável. E foram muitas nessa temporada. Desejos de morte, boneco enforcado, muitos gritos criminosos… Tudo registrado.
Mas o discurso sempre cai em “casos isolados”, “um torcedor”. Não, não são casos isolados. São episódios… pic.twitter.com/aSCMrt0CR8
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) May 22, 2023
He added, “The problem is very serious, and press releases don’t work anymore, altering the normal course of the match and considering the infractions very serious.”
Não foi a primeira vez, nem a segunda e nem a terceira. O racismo é o normal na La Liga. A competição acha normal, a Federação também e os adversários incentivam. Lamento muito. O campeonato que já foi de Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano e Messi hoje é dos racistas. Uma nação…
— Vini Jr. (@vinijr) May 21, 2023
A number of Brazilians protested outside the Spanish consulate on Tuesday. Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez is reported by the BBC as saying, “Spain is fighting this behaviour. We condemn it and we are working to eradicate it.”
Spanish prosecutors will decide whether to pursue a criminal investigation.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said Brazilian Vinicius is “very sad” but overwhelmed by the support he has received.
Racism has been plaguing football worldwide for years but analysts say the partial stadium closure order may work to up the ante on the demand for fair treatment.