Four-year jail term sought for fans in Vini case

A Spanish prosecutor said on Tuesday he has requested four-year prison terms for four football fans in a hate crime case opened after a black effigy dressed as Real Madrid winger Vinícius Júnior was hung from a bridge in January.

A banner reading “Madrid hates Real” and an inflatable black effigy dressed with a replica of Vinícius’ No. 20 shirt appeared hanging on a bridge near the club’s training ground before a match against rival Atlético Madrid on Jan. 26.

The prosecutor accused four members of far-right radical group Frente Atlético, who are followers of Atlético Madrid, of making threats against Vinícius and also of infringing fundamental rights, a prosecutors’ office statement said.

The four showed “an unequivocal sign of contempt and repudiation of the victim’s skin colour and an attempt to undermine the victim’s peace of mind,” it said.

The prosecutor also requested joint compensation of €6,000 ($6,490.20) in civil liability for the moral damage caused to the player.

The four men, who declined to testify when they were arrested in May, were released on bail after a court banned them from getting near Vinícius or communicating with him. They were also barred from Real Madrid’s stadium and training ground as well as Atleti’s playing venue.

Vinícius Jr was in the spotlight in Spain earlier this year after calling Spain’s LaLiga and the country itself racist following verbal abuse from fans he suffered during another Real Madrid match in Valencia in May.

That game was halted for 10 minutes as the Brazilian forward pointed out fans yelling insults at him. He was then involved in an altercation with some Valencia players which led to him being sent off in the second half.

The sporting world has shown solidarity with the 23-year-old since then and the Brazilian government called for severe sanctions against those responsible for the racial slurs.

In October, Vinícius testified as a witness in a court investigation against three fans for allegedly making racist gestures towards him during the match in Valencia. He was also called to testify in a similar case over insults in the Mallorca stadium in February.

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