Spanish soccer fans sentenced to prison for racial abuse of Brazil striker Vinícius Júnior

By June 11, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Three supporters of Spain’s Valencia CF soccer club on Monday were sentenced to eight months in prison for racial abuse they inflicted upon Brazilian soccer star Vinícius Júnior during a match against Real Madrid last year.

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

The incident took place on May 21, 2023, during a La Liga match against Real Madrid in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.

In the 24th minute of the second half, Vinícius Júnior alerted the referee to the racial slurs being directed at him by some Valencia fans.

The Brazilian forward identified some of the offenders, and the match was suspended for around eight minutes. The stadium’s sound system sent out a message calling for fans to cease the racist chants.

At the time, the incident sparked calls from players for the league to be tougher on fans who use racial slurs and shed yet another spotlight on an already well-documented reality of racism in European soccer. After the incident, Vinícius Júnior told reporters, “I just want to play football but it’s hard to move forward … I feel less and less like playing.”

In addition to their eight-month prison sentences, the three fans have been banned from attending soccer stadiums in Spain for two years.

The Brazilian forward celebrated the court’s sentence 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’ve always said, I’m not a victim of racism. I am a nemesis of racists,” Vinícius Júnior wrote on X. “This first criminal conviction in Spain’s history is not for me. It’s for all Black people. Let the other racists be afraid, ashamed, and hide in the shadows.”

Vinicius playing for Real Madrid
(Vinicius Jr’s Instagram)

Vinícius Júnior’s club, Real Madrid, also released an official statement. The club noted that this is the first conviction of its kind in the country and reiterated its commitment to protecting against and eradicating any racist behavior in soccer and sports.