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Vinicius welcomes jail sentence for racially abusive fans

GreenWatch Desk Football 2024-06-11, 10:52am

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Vinicius Junior welcomed the eight-month prison sentences handed down on Monday to three Valencia fans for racially abusing him during a La Liga match last year.

"This first criminal conviction in Spanish history is not for me. It's for all black people," the Real Madrid and Brazil attacker posted on social media.
"But, as I've always said, I'm not a victim of racism. I'm a destroyer of racists. Let the other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I'll be here to collect the debt," he wrote.
"Thank you to La Liga and Real Madrid for helping to bring about this historic verdict. There's more to come..."
The defendants, who were not identified, were convicted of an offence against moral integrity with the aggravating factor of racially motivated discrimination, the Valencia court said.
They were also slapped with a two-year match ban. With no previous criminal record, none will serve jail time as judges habitually suspend prison sentences of less than two years for first-time offenders, reports BSS.
Spain's La Liga hailed the ruling as "the first sentence handed down for racist insults in a Spanish football stadium".
"This sentence is very good news for the fight against racism in Spain," saidLa Liga president Javier Tebas.
"It sends a clear message to anyone who goes to a football stadium to hurl insults that La Liga will find and prosecute them and that they will face criminal consequences."
Gianni Infantino, the president of world football's governing body FIFA, posted on Instagram the decision was "a positive step".
"Our message to people anywhere in the world who behave in a racist way when they are dealing with football is clear: we don't want you," Infantino wrote.
The Brazilian football federation president Ednaldo Rodrigues called forharsher punishments for such incidents.
"The decision is a start, a path, and shows the importance of pressure fromsociety for the authorities to really get involved in this fight againstracism," Rodrigues said.
"It was a punishment that I interpret as still mild, but steps are beingtaken step by step," he added.
The incident took place on May 21, 2023 at Valencia's Mestalla stadium whenhome fans hurled abuse and made monkey noises at the Real Madrid forward.
Play was halted as Vinicius stood in front of fans and pointed at thoseresponsible, prompting stadium officials to demand an end to racist insultsbefore the match could resume.
All three "shouted and chanted at the player with... evident contempt for thecolour of his skin... making racist gestures of contempt and causing him tofeel frustration, shame and humiliation", court documents showed.
It said they were "simulating the gestures made by primates and repeatedlymaking... the sound made by monkeys" in front of a full stadium and a"massive" TV, radio and media audience.
In a statement, Real Madrid said the trio had admitted their wrongdoing andsent a letter apologising to Vinicius, the club and to everyone else "whofelt belittled or offended by their behaviour", urging fans to avoid allexpressions of "racism and intolerance".
- Years of abuse -
The incident, the latest in a string of racist attacks on the player, sparkedan international outcry with Brazil lodging a diplomatic protest and turningoff the lights on Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue in solidarity.
Real Madrid filed a criminal complaint and within days, police arrested threeyouths for "insults and gestures with racist overtones" at the Valencia matchon suspicion of "an alleged hate crime" -- an offence which includes racistbehaviour.
Now 23, Vinicius has been taunted by opposition fans since joining RealMadrid in 2018, suffering racist abuse at several Spanish stadiums.
In January 2023, a dark-skinned effigy wearing a Vinicius shirt was foundhanging from a bridge near the club's training ground alongside a bannersaying: "Madrid hates Real".
In December, four Atletico Madrid fans were charged over the incident, withprosecutors pushing for jail terms of four years. No date has yet been setfor a trial.
The Valencia incident sparked a fierce debate about whether Spain is doingenough to stamp out racism in football.