Spanish police arrested seven people Tuesday over the racial abuse of Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, as the Brazilian star was spared a ban for his red card against Valencia.
The forward was targeted by Valencia fans on Sunday, sparking an international outcry, and the Spanish club had one stand of their stadium shut for five games by the Spanish football authorities late Tuesday.
Spain’s football league, La Liga, has been engulfed in a racism scandal after the 22-year-old forward was subjected to racist taunts during Madrid’s 1-0 defeat at Valencia and later sent off.
The player has been taunted by opposition fans since joining Real in 2018 but the latest incident has kicked up a storm over whether Spain is doing enough to stamp out racism in football.
Police on Tuesday arrested three youths in Valencia for “insults and gestures with racist overtones” towards the player that amounted to “an alleged hate crime” during Sunday’s match.
After their statements were taken, they were later “released on condition they appear when summoned” by the public prosecutor’s office or the courts, a police spokesman told AFP.
Sunday’s game was held up for several minutes with the referee saying that shouts of “monkey” had been directed at Vinicius.
In a statement, Valencia confirmed the arrests, reiterating its “strongest condemnation of racism and violence” and saying the club was acting against those involved “by banning them for life” from their stadium.
In Madrid, police arrested another four men suspected of dangling an effigy wearing a Real Madrid shirt with Vinicius’ number on it from a bridge earlier this year.
The dark-skinned inflatable dummy was hung by the neck from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground several hours before a derby clash with Atletico Madrid on January 26.
Investigators said three of the suspects were “active members of a group of radical fans” who had previously been identified as “high risk” by agents working to prevent football violence.