Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

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Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Mallorca and Real Madrid at the Son Moix stadium in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Francisco Ubilla)

MADRID – The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match.

The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at Mallorca on Sunday.

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Vinícius was also insulted after the match when he stopped to pose for photos and sign autographs for fans.

Vinícius, who is Black, has been subjected to insults since he came to play in Spain five years ago, and last month the attacks reached a new level when his effigy was hanged off a bridge in Madrid ahead of the derby against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

He had also been targeted by fans in other stadiums before, including at Barcelona’s Camp Nou. The hate attacks also occurred in games at Valladolid and Athletic Bilbao.

The league has been reporting the insults to the Spanish soccer federation and to local authorities, and said it would do the same this time after “intolerable racist insults against Vinícius were again observed.”

The league said it was “working with RCD Mallorca to identify those responsible in order to take all necessary legal measures.” To speed up the process, the league said it created an email (StopRacismo@laliga.es) so fans who may have images or knowledge of those responsible can make contact and help it file the appropriate complaints.

Authorities were yet to find those responsible for hanging Vinícius’ effigy before the game against Atletico, and so far teams have not been punished for the racist insults against the Brazilian inside their stadiums.

An anti-violence committee said it was studying punishment to the Valladolid fans who insulted Vinícius in a match in December, which could include fines of 4,000 euros ($4,300) to each individual identified, as well as banning them from sports venues for one year.

Last year a large group of Atletico fans chanted “Vinícius, you are a monkey” outside Metropolitano Stadium, but Spanish state prosecutors closed a probe into the case citing a lack of evidence and downplayed its seriousness because the chants allegedly came within the rivalry setting of a soccer match.

The first trial against a fan who racially insulted a player in Spain is expected to begin this year following remarks by an Espanyol supporter against Athletic Bilbao forward Iñaki Williams a few years ago.

Vinícius has been outspoken about the attacks against him but has yet to comment on the events from Sunday.

Real Madrid has also complained about how Vinícius, a speedy attacker known for his nifty dribbles, has been targeted by opposing players on the field. Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista was sent off in a game last week after a vicious foul on the Brazilian. Vinicius was also roughed up several times against Mallorca.

The 22-year-old Vinícius was also recently engulfed in controversy for his dancing in goal celebrations.

“There is an environment being created surrounding Vinícius that doesn’t really help anyone, neither Vinícius nor the fans, who end up provoking him without really knowing why," Madrid defender Nacho Fernández said after Sunday's match. "It’s time to put these controversies and nonsense to the side.”

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