Express & Star

Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse after insulting Vinicius

The Real Madrid player was racially abused at a match at the Mestalla Stadium in May 2023.

Vinicius Junior at Wembley after the Champions League final

Three Valencia fans have been handed eight-month prison sentences after pleading guilty to racially insulting Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior in the first racism-related convictions in Spanish professional football.

The fans, whose names were not released, will not be allowed to enter football stadiums for two years and will have to pay for all the court proceedings.

They were detained after a Spanish league match between Real Madrid and Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium in May 2023.

The match was briefly stopped after Brazilian international Vinicius was insulted.

Vinicius scores at Wembley
Vinicius Junior scored the clinching goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League final at Wembley (AP)

That incident sparked an outpouring of support for Vinicius, who is black, and set off widespread calls for action by Spanish authorities and society in general.

Many saw it as a turning point in the fight against racism in Spanish football, although Vinicius continued to be subjected to racist abuse several months after the initial uproar that accompanied the incident at the Mestalla.

The sentence found the defendants guilty of a crime against moral integrity with the aggravating circumstance of discrimination based on racist motives.

The case was brought before the courts by the Spanish league, which was joined by the Spanish soccer federation, Real Madrid and Vinicius.

Valencia had already banned the fans shortly after the incident at its stadium. But no-one had ever gone to trial in Spain for racially abusing a player, and many similar cases of abuse like the one faced by Vinicius had been shelved by prosecutors in the past.

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