Vinicius Jr warns racists to be afraid: ‘I’ll hold them accountable’

Vinicius Jr said racists should be “afraid” after three Valencia fans were each sentenced to eight months in prison for abusing him during a match last year.

The sentences are the first convictions connected to racist abuse in football in Spain, and the Real Madrid forward welcomed the decision to issue custodial sentences to the people involved.

“The first criminal conviction in Spain’s history isn’t for me, but it’s for all black people,” the Brazilian posted on the social media platform X.

“May other racists feel scared, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I’ll be here to hold them accountable. Thank you to LaLiga and Real Madrid for helping with this historic conviction. More to come…”

The abuse punished by a Valencia court occurred during a league match at the Mestalla stadium in the city on May 21 last year. LaLiga filed the initial complaint which prompted the criminal case.

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Vinicius Junior broke down in tears last season while discussing the racism he has received while playing for Real Madrid, saying he just wanted to play football

The individuals were also given two-year stadium bans from any venue hosting LaLiga matches, or games held under the jurisdiction of the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

LaLiga said Valencia had co-operated with the investigation and had expelled the three people as members of the club.

A letter of apology to Vinicius from the defendants was read out during the hearing, LaLiga and Real confirmed.

LaLiga wants to ‘speed up the fight against racism’

LaLiga president Javier Tebas
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LaLiga president Javier Tebas wants to see sanctioning for racism offences speeded up

“This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain, as it goes some way to redressing the disgraceful wrong suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those individuals who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse,” LaLiga president Javier Tebas said.

“LaLiga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences.

“I understand that there may be some frustration at the length of time it takes for these sentences to be handed down, but this shows that Spain is a country that guarantees judicial integrity.

“We at LaLiga can only respect the pace of justice, but once again we demand that Spanish legislation evolves to give LaLiga sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism.”

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Speaking ahead of the Champions League final, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham was asked about team-mate Vinicius Junior winning the Ballon D’or

Currently LaLiga can only bring the facts of a case to the relevant legal authorities and is unable to sanction clubs, fans or players for hateful conduct, racism or violent acts itself.

Real Madrid issued a statement confirming the convictions which concluded: “Real Madrid, which has exercised together with Vinicius Junior the private prosecution in this procedure, will continue to work to protect the values of our club and eradicate any racist behaviour in the world of football and sport.”

Infantino: Rasicts not part of the football community

FIFA has announced the closure of criminal proceedings against its president Gianni Infantino over meetings he had with Switzerland’s former Attorney General

FIFA president Gianni Infantino hailed the sentences as a “positive step” in the fight to rid football of racism.

He wrote on his Instagram Stories: “I am pleased to see the firm action and sentencing taken by the Spanish authorities in relation to the racist abuse directed at Vinicius Jr in a Spanish La Liga match in May 2023. This is a positive step.

“As I reiterated clearly at the recent FIFA Congress in Bangkok, we can no longer accept what is happening in stadiums and on the pitch.

Vinicius

“Our message to people anywhere in the world who still behave in a racist way when they are dealing with football is clear: we don’t want you. These people have to be excluded, they are not part of our community and not part of football.

“This ruling showcases one of FIFA’s five pillars of action: criminal charges. We, together united as global football, will push for recognition of racism as a criminal offence in every country in the world and, as seen today in Spain, where there is already an offence, will push for prosecution with the severity it deserves.”

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