Spanish police arrest 7 after racist incidents targeting Vinicius Jr

Vinicius Jr
Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr gestures towards a fan as Valencia's Jose Gaya and Cenk Ozkacar attempt to restrain him. File photo: Reuters/Pablo Morano

Police detained seven men on Tuesday over separate alleged racist incidents against the football player Vinicius Jr as Spain's main soccer league urged changes to Spanish law that would enable it to take steps to curb racism in stadiums.

A hate crime investigation was opened after an inflatable effigy dressed in the No. 20 jersey of winger Vinicius Jr was hung from a bridge in front of Real Madrid's training ground, the player's club. Alongside it was a 16m (17.5-yard) red and white banner - the colours of rival team Atletico Madrid - that read "Madrid hates Real".

Three men were arrested in Valencia for racist conduct in a match between Valencia and Real Madrid, police said on Twitter.

Four men were also arrested in Madrid, police said, three of whom were members of "a radical group of fans of a Madrid club", who were previously flagged during matches as "high risk" to help curb violence during games.

The arrests come a day after football federation chief Luis Rubiales said Spanish soccer has a racism problem, following a race-crime complaint lodged by Real Madrid.

After racial slurs were aimed at Vinicius Jr during a Spanish league match on Sunday, Vinicius Jr, in a social media post, called the racist abuse "inhuman" and asked sponsors and broadcasters to hold LaLiga accountable.

LaLiga, which has come under pressure to do more after the Brazilian president, FIFA, and sporting stars such as France forward Kylian Mbappe, Rio Ferdinand and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton voiced support for Vinicius, said in a statement on Tuesday that it felt "impotent" to tackle the issue while Spanish legislation limited its actions to merely detecting and reporting racist incidents.

LaLiga listed a number of incidents against Black players, including nine against Vinicius, which did not go to trial because of insufficient evidence and urged that the law to be modified so that it could

"LaLiga is extremely frustrated by the lack of sanctions and convictions by sporting disciplinary bodies, public administrations and courts public administrations and the jurisdictional bodies to which complaints are made," it said in a statement.

Vinicius has expressed frustrated that LaLiga has not exerted pressure on the Spanish football federation, which does have the power to apply stadium closures and bans, according to sources close to the player.

The federation can cancel a match if racist insults continue after a 10-minute period in which the game is paused and the crowd warned. To date, no match in Spain has enforced it.

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