Valencia have been sanctioned with a partial stadium closure for five matches following the racist abuse of Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr.
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The authorities have detained three people in connection with the abuse directed at the Brazilian at Mestalla Stadium on Sunday.
Valencia have also been fined Ksh. 6.6 million (£39,000). However, Vinicius’ late red card has been rescinded, meaning he will not have to serve a suspension.
The abuse suffered by Vinicius Jr this season
September 2022 – Some Atletico Madrid fans sang racist songs toward Vinicius outside their Wanda Metropolitano stadium before Real Madrid played them in September 2022. Atletico Madrid later condemned “unacceptable” chants by a “minority” of fans.
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September 2022 – some pundits in Spain criticise Vinicius’ goal celebration, in which he dances by the corner flag. He responds by saying “the happiness of a black Brazilian in Europe” is behind the criticism.
December 2022 – Vinicius appeared to be subjected to racist abuse at Valladolid while he walked past fans after being substituted. La Liga said it has filed charges relating to the racist abuse of Vinicius to the “relevant judicial, administrative and sporting bodies”.
January 2023 – An effigy of the Real Madrid winger was hung from a bridge near the club’s training ground before a game against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey. Atletico said the incident was “repugnant”.
February 2023 – Mallorca fans were filmed allegedly racially abusing the Brazilian during a game against Real.
March 2023 – La Liga said “intolerable racist behaviour was once again observed against Vinicius” in a game against Barcelona and it reported the racist insults to the Barcelona Court of Instruction.
May 2023 – Vinicius suffers racist abuse against Valencia.
Valencia club statement
Valencia called the decision to partially close their stadium “disproportionate, unjust and unprecedented” and said they intend to appeal against that part of the sanction.
“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, an area a clearly angry and emotional Vinicius was seen pointing to during Sunday’s second half before reporting the issue to the referee.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) also said Vinicius, 22, will not be suspended after being sent off in the 97th minute of the 1-0 defeat and is available for Wednesday’s game against Real Vallecano.
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Vinicius was sent off following a video assistant referee (VAR) check for pushing Valencia forward Hugo Duro to the floor.
However, the footage the VAR showed the on-field referee did not include the part where Duro grabbed the Brazilian around the neck before the incident, which is also a red card offence.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) action
The RFEF said in a statement that the referee’s decision to dismiss Vinicius was due to him being “deprived of a decisive part of the facts”, adding that it was “impossible for him to properly assess what happened”.
Explaining the partial stadium closure, the RFEF added:
“It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius, altering the normal course of the match and considering the infractions very serious.”
The match was paused in the second half as an incensed Vinicius reported opposition fans to the referee. Real has reported the abuse towards Vinicius to the Spanish prosecutor’s office as a hate crime.
A number of Brazilians protested outside the Spanish consulate on Tuesday. Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said: “Spain is fighting this behaviour. We condemn it and we are working to eradicate it.”
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said Brazilian Vinicius is “very sad” but overwhelmed by the support he has received and believes he will stay in Spain despite the abuse.
“I don’t think [he will leave Spain], because he loves football and he loves Real Madrid,” said Ancelotti. “His love for the club is very big and he wants to make his career here.”
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Vinicius has been the target of racist abuse multiple times this season and, following the latest incident, has received support from the footballing world.
And there has been widespread condemnation of how the incident has been handled, including from the Brazilian government.
Before Tuesday night’s games between Real Valladolid and Barcelona, and Celta Vigo and Girona, players and match officials stood behind banners which read “Racism, out of football”.
Barcelona winger Raphinha revealed a message of support for his compatriot in the second half when he was substituted.
La Liga has said it will request “more sanctioning powers” so it can punish incidents of racism after the Spanish league’s handling of the incident at Valencia received widespread condemnation.
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After the match, Vinicius and La Liga president Javier Tebas were involved in a row on Twitter, after the Brazilian said La Liga “belongs to racists” and “in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists”.
Tebas responded by saying Vinicius twice did not turn up for a meeting to discuss what it “can do in cases of racism”, adding: “Before you criticise and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly.”
Micah Richards says Javier Tebas’s comments ‘make my blood boil’
Micah Richards says La Liga President Javier Tebas’ response to the racist abuse suffered by Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr “makes my blood boil”.
After the match, Vinicius and Tebas were involved in a row on Twitter, after the Brazilian said La Liga “belongs to racists” and “in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists”.
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“Javier has tried to make himself the victim in all this, it’s absolutely embarrassing what he has come out with in his statement,” former Manchester City and England defender Richards told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club. “It makes my blood boil and that is part of the problem. It’s not just a football issue, it’s a life that people go through every single day.”