Valencia condemns ‘disproportionate’ punishment after racial abuse against Vinicius Jr


MADRID (AP) – Valencia will appeal the partial closure of its stadium after Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr. was racially abused in a Spanish league match, saying the punishment was “unfair and disproportionate.”

Spanish soccer’s competition committee fined Valencia 45,000 euros ($48,500) late on Tuesday and closed part of the Mestalla stadium for five games, the club’s longest-ever ban on racism in Spain. is the most severe punishment.

The punishment was part of a strong response from football officials and Spanish authorities after a surge in support for Vinicius after he was targeted by Valencia fans on Sunday.

Vinicius, who is black, has been the target of repeated racial slurs since he came to play in Spain five years ago. The 22-year-old Brazilian forward has been heavily criticized for not taking action against Spain and racism following the latest incident against him.

“Valencia wishes to express its complete disagreement and anger at the unfair and disproportionate penalty imposed by the competition committee,” the club said in a statement earlier on Wednesday. “Valencia wishes to publicly denounce that the evidence presented by the committee contradicts what the police and La Liga have said. This sanction is based on evidence that the club has not been able to see.”

Valencia also complained that he was not given a chance to defend himself before the verdict. The club said it had been co-operating with the police since the beginning and had worked hard to condemn what happened at its stadium.

Valencia said shortly after the game that it would work with the officials to identify those responsible for the abuse, and a day later it banned a man for life for his involvement in the incident against Vinicius.

With the club’s cooperation, police on Sunday arrested three men on suspicion of hate crime for allegedly abusing the Brazilian, all of whom were banned from the stadium for life. The club said it was the most punishment he could be given.

“Punishing fans who were not involved in these tragic events is a completely disproportionate, unfair and unprecedented move,” Valencia said. “We will fight against it until the end.”

All three men spoke to the police and were released after the investigation against them continued. Four other people were detained in Madrid in January after allegedly hanging a statue of Vinicius on a highway bridge.

Fans have previously been fined and banned for attacks on Vinicius, but no player in Spain has yet been prosecuted on criminal charges for racially abusing him.

Spain enacted a specific law against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sports in 2007, and since then a multi-agency anti-violence commission has been in charge of monitoring and condemning cases that violate the law. can break

But current legislation stipulates that not all cases of racism can be criminalised, only those where there is an additional factor affecting the victim. Most cases, including the one involving the Valencia fans, end up falling into the category where punishment only includes fines and stadium bans.

Valencia, still fighting relegation to the second division, have one home game left in the league this season against Espanyol on Sunday. Espanyol are also trying to avoid relegation. Valencia are in 13th place, five points above the relegation zone.

The part of the Mestalla that will be closed from where the insults against Vinícius were committed, behind a goal. This is where the club’s more die-hard fans are usually located.

The committee also retracted the red card shown to Vinicius after a scuffle with Valencia players late in the game on Tuesday, saying the video review did not show the referee’s images of the full brawl, which he was part of. including one in which the Brazilian was grabbed from behind. Opposite

The highly unusual decision took many people by surprise.

“Acts of racism and insults should be censored, but what happens on the field is different,” Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said. “It is clear that there was an aggression (by Vinícius) and I am surprised that they took away the red card. One thing has nothing to do with the other.”

Late Tuesday, about 100 Brazilian protesters gathered outside the Spanish consulate in Sao Paulo to denounce racist abuse against Vinicius. Protesters chanted “La Liga is racist” and “End racism in Spain and Brazil” for about an hour.

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