Four arrested on suspicion of hanging effigy of Vinicius Jr off bridge in Madrid

Four arrested on suspicion of hanging effigy of Vinicius Jr off bridge in Madrid

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of hanging an effigy of Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr off a bridge in Spain’s capital in January, police have said.

A hate crime investigation was opened after the effigy was hung with the star’s number 20 shirt from a bridge in front of Real Madrid’s training ground.

It was hung alongside a 16-metre red and white banner that read “Madrid hates Real”.

The arrests were made days after the Brazilian footballer renewed his attack on La Liga and the Spanish authorities – revealing how he has received death threats this season.

Real Madrid lodged a hate crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors after the Brazilian player was targeted with racist abuse during their 1-0 defeat away at Valencia on Sunday.

Valencia said police have identified a fan who made racist gestures at Vinicius Jr and that person faces a lifetime stadium ban from the Mestalla ground.

The lights on Brazil’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue were turned off for an hour on Monday night in solidarity with Vinicius Jr.

The Archdiocesan Sanctuary, which manages the monument, carried out the act in cooperation with the Brazilian FA and the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football.

“The Christ the Redeemer Archdiocesan Sanctuary repudiates the racist attacks suffered by the Brazilian player Vinicius Jr,” it said.

The lights on the Christ the Redeemer statue were switched off in solidarity with Vinicius Jr

“The lighting of the monument will be switched off as a symbol of the collective fight against racism and in solidarity with the player and all those who suffer prejudice around the world.”

In his latest tweet, the 22-year-old winger highlighted what he described as “continuous episodes spread across several cities in Spain”.

He wrote: “Every round away from home is an unpleasant surprise. And there were many this season. Death wishes, hanged doll, many criminal screams… All registered.

“But the speech always falls on ‘isolated cases’, ‘a fan’. No, these are not isolated cases. They are continuous episodes spread across several cities in Spain (and even in a television programme).

“The evidence is there in the video. Now I ask: how many of these racists had names and photos exposed on websites? I answer to make it easier: zero.”

He asked what was missing to “criminalise these people” and “punish clubs”, adding: “Why don’t sponsors charge La Liga?

“The problem is very serious and communications no longer work. Not blaming me to justify criminal acts either. You are not football, you are inhuman.”

Madrid‘s match against Valencia was paused on Sunday night after the half-time break as the Brazilian pointed out supporters who were taunting him to the referee.

Vinicius, who has been racially abused from the stands several times this season, was enraged, prompting teammates and opposition players to try to calm him down.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, confronts Valencia fans as Antonio Rudiger tries to calm him down during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid, at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, May 21, 2023. The game was temporarily stopped when Vinicius said a fan had insulted him from the stands. He was later sent off after clashing with Valencia players. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Vinicius Jr (L) confronts Valencia fans as Real Madrid teammate Antonio Rudiger tries to calm him down

He tweeted after the game: “It wasn’t the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. In football they think it’s normal, the federation does too – and the opponent encourages it.

“I’m so sad. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi today belongs to racism.

“A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world.

“I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for something that happens each week, I have no defence. I let it happen.

“But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if it is far from here.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas responded to Vinicius’s post on Sunday by accusing the forward of “criticising and insulting” the league.

In another tweet on Monday, Tebas said: “Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist. It is very unfair to say this.”

Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr pictured at the first leg of the Champion's League semi final against Manchester City in Madrid on 9 May
Vinicius Jr pictured at the first leg of the Champion’s League semi-final against Manchester City in Madrid on 9 May

‘Attacks constitute a hate crime’

In a strongly-worded statement, the 22-year-old’s club said: “Real Madrid CF shows its strongest revulsion and condemns the events that took place yesterday against our player Vinicius Jr.

“These facts constitute a direct attack on the coexistence model of our social and democratic state of law.

“Real Madrid considers that such attacks also constitute a hate crime, for which reason it has filed the corresponding complaint with the state attorney general’s office.”