Arrests Made in Connection with Hanging of Vinicius Junior Effigy before Madrid Derby
Madrid, Spain – Four individuals have been apprehended under suspicion of hanging an effigy portraying Vinicius Junior from a bridge prior to the highly anticipated clash between Real Madrid and Atletico in January.
The effigy, depicting the Brazilian footballer, was found suspended by the neck from a highway in Madrid on the morning of January 26, coinciding with the quarter-final Copa del Rey encounter between the two rival clubs. Accompanying the effigy was a banner affixed to the bridge, bearing the message “Madrid hates Real.”
Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday that the arrests were made following an investigation into a hate crime. The incident drew strong condemnation from both Real Madrid and Atletico, with La Liga also issuing an official statement.
“La Liga unequivocally denounces acts of hatred and intimidation towards Vinicius Jr.,” the statement declared. “As in previous instances, La Liga will strive to ensure a thorough investigation by the relevant law enforcement agencies, aiming to bring the culprits to justice and secure the harshest penalties possible.”
Throughout the season, Vinicius has endured racial abuse, with the most recent incident occurring during Real’s match against Valencia at the Mestalla on Sunday. Play was halted for five minutes as Vinicius identified a group of home supporters who subjected him to racist chants and gestures.
The Brazilian winger contemplated leaving the field but ultimately continued, albeit receiving a red card in stoppage time. Later that evening, he took to social media to express his discontent with La Liga and Spanish authorities, releasing a strongly-worded statement.
“This was not the first, second, or even third time,” Vinicius expressed. “Racism is normalized in La Liga. The league accepts it, the federation accepts it, and the opponents encourage it. I am deeply sorry.”
La Liga has filed a total of nine criminal complaints regarding racist abuse directed at Vinicius over the past two seasons. However, many of these complaints were ultimately dismissed by prosecutors. Following the distressing events at the Mestalla, Real Madrid filed a fresh complaint pertaining to the hate crime, while Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), expressed his support for Vinicius.
“We have a problem in our country concerning behavior, education, and racism,” Rubiales acknowledged. “[Vinicius] is more accurate in his assessment than we may realize. Our objective is for all footballers to be able to assert that racism is no longer a problem.”
The investigation into the hanging of the effigy continues, with authorities striving to bring those responsible to justice and send a resolute message against racism in football.