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Vinicius Jr. was racially insulted. © APA/afp / JOSE JORDAN

Football fans sentenced to prison for racism

A court in the Spanish Mediterranean metropolis of Valencia has sentenced three football fans to eight months in prison each for racist insults against Real Madrid's Brazilian star striker Vinicius Junior.

The three were found guilty of violating the 23-year-old's dignity during an away game against Valencia FC on May 21, 2023 at the Mestalla Stadium by shouting and making racist gestures, the court said on Monday with. They would also have to pay the court costs and would have been banned from stadiums for league or football association games for two years. In Spain, judges often suspend prison sentences of less than two years.

“Many people asked me to ignore it, others said my fight was in vain and that I should just play football,” Vinicius Jr. shared on social media. This criminal conviction is not just his concern, but “all black people,” the Brazilian continued. “May the other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows.”

Perpetrators have confessed

The final judgment proves that the three defendants insulted Vinicius with shouts, gestures and chants that referred to his skin color, while acting with obvious contempt for the “black skin color of the player”. These calls and gestures of a “racist nature,” which included imitating monkey movements, caused the footballer “feelings of frustration, shame and humiliation, thereby undermining his dignity,” the ruling continued.

The three defendants confessed to the crime and acknowledged their criminal responsibility. They also sent a letter of apology to Vinicius Junior, to Real Madrid and to all other people who felt vilified and insulted by their behavior. Not only did they show remorse, but in their letter to the fans they also called for racism and intolerance to be banned from the competitions.

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