Spanish soccer fans sentenced to prison for racist abuse of Brazilian striker Vinícius Júnior

São Paulo, Brazil – Three fans of the Spanish football club Valencia CF were sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday for racist abuse of Brazilian football star Vinícius Júnior during last year’s match against Real Madrid.

A Spanish court found the fans guilty of crimes against morals, aggravated by discriminatory racial motives.

The incident occurred on May 21, 2023 during the La Liga match against Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia.

In the 24th minute of the second half, Vinícius Júnior alerted the referee that some Valencia fans had directed racist insults at him.

The Brazilian striker identified some of the culprits and the match was suspended for around eight minutes. The stadium’s public address system sent out a message calling on fans to stop using racist chants.

At the time, the incident sparked calls from players for the league to be tougher on fans who use racist slurs, as well as shedding further light on the already well-documented reality of racism in European football. After the incident, Vinícius Júnior told reporters: “I just want to play football, but it’s hard for me to move forward… I have less and less desire to play.”

In addition to eight months in prison, three fans were given a two-year ban from entering football stadiums in Spain.

The Brazilian striker boasted about the court’s ruling on social media:

“Many asked me to ignore it and many others said my fight was in vain and that I should just ‘play football’. But as I have always said, I am not a victim of racism. I am the nemesis of racists,” wrote Vinícius Júnior in X. “This first conviction in Spanish history is not for me. This is for all Black people. Let other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows.”

Winicjusz plays for Real Madrid
(Vinicius Jr.’s Instagram)

Vinícius Júnior’s club, Real Madrid, also issued an official statement. The club noted that this was the first verdict of its kind in the country and reiterated its commitment to protecting against and eliminating all racist behavior in football and sport.