Spanish national police have opened an investigation “for a possible hate crime” after a statue of Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior was hung from a bridge in Madrid, the press office of the national police for the Madrid region said on Thursday.
In the videos, which have been widely viewed on social media, the portrait – which includes a Real Madrid shirt with the name of Vinicius and No. 20 was worn on the back – it was shown hanging from a bridge near Real Madrid’s stadium along with a banner that read: “Real hates Madrid.”
Police from the Hortaleza station, which is closest to the bridge, went to remove it as soon as they saw the effigy at around 8:30 am local time on Thursday morning (2:30 am ET), but when they arrived, the sign was read. “He hates Real Madrid” no longer hanging there, the press office said.
Real Madrid faces Atlético Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Thursday evening at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
In a said he released on TwitterThe Spanish league said it “strongly condemns the acts of hatred and threats against Vinício Jr.”
“La Liga, as in the past, will press the investigation into the matter by the public security forces and the relevant bodies, seeking convictions for those responsible and the most serious sentences.”
Atlético called the image “repulsive and unacceptable” and “embarrassing”[es] society.”
“Our condemnation, to any act that attacks the dignity of people or institutions, is absolute and unassailable,” the club said in a statement.
The rivalry between the two clubs is great, but also the respect. No man, regardless of his intentions or their colors, can destroy the coexistence between two phantoms. Everyone has to flee.
“We do not know who the author or authors of this despicable act are, but their anonymity does not help to avoid responsibility. We hope that the authors will take care to clear up the circumstances and that justice will help to stop these behaviors.”
Real Madrid said it would like to “thank you for the suspension and the signs of care taken following the deplorable and repugnant act of racism, xenophobia and hatred against our player Vini Jr.”
“We declare the strongest condemnation against these acts that attack the fundamental rights and dignity of people and that have nothing to do with the values that football and sport represent,” the statement said.
“These attacks that the athlete is currently suffering, or that any athlete could suffer, cannot have a place in our society, as in ours.
“The true Madridist believes that whoever participated in these contemptible acts comes to light.”
Vinícius faced racist abuse from opposition fans.
In Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory 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 players being thrown into the middle when he was substituted.
Reuters reported that Vinícius later accused La Liga of the dismissal of racial abuse, to which the Spanish league said “a charge of hate crimes has been filed with the courts of Valladolid, supported by visual evidence collected during the investigation carried out. Photos and audio clips published in open sources.”
According to Reuters, La Liga also said it will increase efforts to eradicate “any form of violence, racism or xenophobia inside and outside the stadiums.”
In September 2022, a group of Atletico fans subjected the 18-year-old to racist chanting in the derby in the league.
In a video posted on Twitter by Spanish radio station COPIA, a substantial group of Atletico supporters could be heard outside Atleti’s Metropolitano Stadium chanting: “You’re a monkey, Viníci, you’re a monkey.”
Spanish prosecutors last December concluded an investigation into racist chants directed at Vinício at the Metropolitano Atletico stadium, which prosecutors said could not be determined who was at fault, a prosecution source told CNN.
Vinícius was sentenced two days later, because of the racist criticism he received for celebrating the purpose of the dance.
While appearing on Spanish TV in September, Pedro Bravo – the chief agent and president of the Association of Spanish Agents – compared the Brazilian dancing celebrations after the monkey’s behavior by scoring, then arguing not about his opponents and about “the monkey should play.”
Bravo was accused of using racist words by many on social media and later apologized on Twitter.
In the derby, after Rodrygo Vinicius’ teammate had opened the scoring and the two danced in celebration, several Atlético supporters could be seen gesturing to the Brazilians.
Vinícius discussed the racist abuse he faced for his dancing, saying: “They say happiness hurts. The success of the Black Brazilian winner in Europe is much more troubling.
“But the desire to win, the smile and the sparkle in the eyes are much greater than that. You can’t even imagine. I am a victim of xenophobic and racist comments. but none of that started yesterday. A few weeks ago, my dances began to deteriorate. Do not sing my song.
“They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, [Lucas] package [Antoine] Griezmann, João Félix, Matheus Cunha … belong to Brazilian funk and samba artists, reggaeton singers, and to Black Americans.
“These are choirs to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Take it, watch it. I’m not going to stop.”