Spain’s national police have opened an investigation “for a possible hate crime,” after an effigy of Real Madrid star Vinícius Junior was hanged from a bridge in Madrid, the national police press office for the Madrid region told CNN Thursday.
In videos that have been widely viewed on social media, the effigy – who was dressed in a Real Madrid shirt with Vinícius’ name and number 20 on the back – was shown hanging from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground alongside a flag Which read: “Madrid hates Real.”
Police from the Hortaleza station, closest to the bridge, went to remove it as soon as they learned of the effigy at around 8:30 a.m. local time Thursday morning (2:30 a.m. ET), but when they arrived, the The banner reading “Madrid hates Real” is no longer hanging there, the press office said.
Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Thursday evening at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
In A Statement released on TwitterThe Spanish league said it “strongly condemns acts of hatred and intimidation against Vinícius Jr.”
“La Liga, as in the past, will press for an investigation into this matter by relevant state security forces and bodies, seek convictions for those responsible and request the most severe sentences.”
Atletico said the effigy was “punitive and unacceptable” and that it was “shameful[es] Society.”
“Our condemnation of any act that attacks the dignity of individuals or institutions is absolute and unequivocal,” the club said in a statement.
“The rivalry between the two clubs is maximum, but the respect is also. No individual, whatever their intentions or their colors, can destroy the coexistence between the two fan-bases. It is everyone’s responsibility to avoid that.
“We do not know who the author or authors of this careful act are, but their anonymity does not help them avoid responsibility. We hope that the authorities manage to clarify the circumstances and that justice helps to drive away these types of behaviors.
Real Madrid said it “wants to thank the support and signs of care received after the lamentable and repugnant act of racism, xenophobia and hatred against our player Vinny Jr.”
“We express our firmest condemnation against the acts that attack the fundamental rights and dignity of people and that have nothing to do with the values that represent football and sport,” it said in a statement.
“The attacks that our player is currently suffering, or those that any athlete could suffer, cannot have a place in a society like ours.
“Real Madrid trust that the responsibilities of anyone involved in these despicable acts come to light.”
Vinícius has previously faced racist abuse from opposition fans.
In Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Real Valladolid on December 30 last year, Vinícius said he was subjected to racist abuse from the crowd, with videos on social media showing fans throwing objects at the forward as he left the pitch. When he was replaced.
Reuters reported that Vinícius later accused La Liga of inaction over racial abuse, to which the Spanish league said a “criminal charge for hate crimes was filed in the Valladolid magistrates’ courts, supported by audiovisual evidence gathered in the investigation carried out Through images and audio clips published on open sources.
According to Reuters, La Liga also said it would step up efforts to “prevent any kind of violence, racism or xenophobia inside and outside the stadiums.”
In September 2022, a group of Atlético fans subjected the 22-year-old to racist chanting during the derby in the league.
In a video posted on Twitter by Spanish radio station COPE, a sizeable group of Atleti supporters outside Atleti’s Metropolitan Stadium could be heard chanting: “You’re a monkey, Vinícius, you’re a monkey.”
Spanish prosecutors last December closed an investigation into the racist chant directed at Vinícius at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium because prosecutors said it was not possible to identify who was to blame, a prosecution source told CNN.
It came just two days after Vinicius condemned what he described as racist criticism he received for his dancing goal celebrations.
While appearing on Spanish television in September, Pedro Bravo – a leading agent and president of the Association of Spanish Agents – compared the Brazilian’s dancing celebrations after scoring to the behavior of a monkey, arguing that the forward did not respect his opponents and “Should stop playing. The monkey.”
Bravo was accused of using racist language by many on social media and later apologized on Twitter.
During the derby, after Vinícius’ teammate with Rodrygo opened the scoring and the two danced in celebration, some Atlético supporters could be seen making gestures towards the Brazilian pair.
Vinícius discussed the racist abuse he faced for his dance celebrations, saying: “They say luck hurts. The luck of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe hurts much more.
“But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are much bigger than that. You can’t even imagine it. I was a victim of a xenophobic and racist comment. But none of this started yesterday. Weeks ago they Started to criminalize my dances. Dances that are not mine.
“They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, [Lucas] packet, [Antoine] Griezmann, João Félix, Matheus Cunha… They belong to Brazilian funk and samba artists, reggaeton singers and black Americans.
“These are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I’m not going to stop.”