Wed, 07 Jun 2023

MADRID, May 23 (Xinhua) -- On Tuesday, the Spanish National Police Force announced the arrest of four individuals accused of directing a hate crime at Real Madrid's Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr.

The four suspects, aged between 19 and 24 and identified as members of Atletico Madrid's 'Frente Atletico' group of 'ultras', are alleged to have displayed a banner reading 'Madrid hates Real'. Accompanying the banner was an effigy wearing Vinicius' No. 20 shirt, adorned with a noose around its neck, seemingly simulating a hanging. The offensive display was found hanging from a motorway bridge near Real Madrid's Valdebebas training ground.

These incidents occurred in January, on the eve of a Copa del Rey match between the two Madrid teams at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The Spanish Football League, La Liga, denounced the incident in a Madrid court, demanding criminal action against the perpetrators.

News of these arrests emerged just two days after Vinicius was subjected to further racist abuse during Real Madrid's 1-0 defeat at Mestalla Stadium. Video footage revealed a group of Valencia fans chanting 'Mono mono' (monkey monkey) at the 22-year-old, who halted the game in the second half to identify the individuals racially abusing him.

These incidents have drawn widespread condemnation from all sectors of Spanish society, leading to Vinicius criticizing La Liga for its lack of action against racism in Spanish football.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva voiced support for the player. Similarly, Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), acknowledged on Monday the presence of a racism issue in Spain.

Valencia, meanwhile, has condemned the incidents which are still under investigation. Real Madrid has called for criminal charges and two supporters have already received lifetime bans.

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