Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr demands punishment over hanged effigy

Effigy of the winger hanged from a bridge near the club’s training ground before Real’s meeting with city rivals Atletico in the Copa del Rey.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior controls the ball in match in January.
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior says he wants action by authorities 'not official statements' [Alvaro Barrientos/AP Photo]

Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr wants punishment to be handed out by Spanish authorities after a mannequin wearing his shirt was hanged from a bridge in front of the club’s training centre in advance of the Madrid derby.

Real host Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday and the mannequin was strung up next to a banner in Atletico’s red-and-white colours that read “Madrid hates Real”, police said.

“Vinicius Jr is aware of the situation but is fully concentrated on tonight’s match,” a spokesperson for the 22-year-old Brazilian said.

“He will discuss the issue tomorrow with his club and legal staff, but his position is still the same as before – he expects punishment from the authorities, not official statements.”

Police said no charges had yet been filed but they opened an investigation for what could be a hate crime after they removed the banner and mannequin early on Thursday.

Real, Atletico, LaLiga and the Spanish Football Association all released statements condemning the incident.

“Such acts are absolutely repugnant and inadmissible and shame society. Our condemnation of any act that attacks the dignity of persons or institutions is categorical and unreserved,” Atletico said in a statement.

“The rivalry between the two clubs is the greatest but so is respect. No individual, whatever their intentions or colours, can tarnish the coexistence between different supporters. It is everyone’s responsibility to avoid this.”

The LaLiga on Twitter said, “intolerance and violence do not fit within football.”

Racist incidents

Vinicius has been subjected to racial abuse by fans on at least three previous occasions – at Camp Nou against Barcelona in November 2021, at Atletico in September 2022, and at Valladolid in late December 2022.

Prosecutors in Madrid decided not press charges over racist taunts aimed at Vinicius in September after finding they “lasted a few seconds” and did not constitute a crime.

In December, Vinicius accused LaLiga of continuing to do nothing about racist fans at matches, after videos on social media showed people shouting abuse and throwing objects at him during a match the previous day at Valladolid.

Football legend Pele, Neymar, and other leading Brazilian figures strongly defended Vinicius in September after a panellist on a Spanish football show criticised the forward.

He said Vinicius was not respecting opponents with his celebrations, comparing his behaviour to that of “a monkey”.

Vinicius Jr issued a two-minute video statement at the time in response to what he called a “xenophobic and racist” insult, saying he “won’t stop dancing”.

“The happiness of a Black Brazilian being successful in Europe bothers [many people],” he added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies