Valencia CF has been handed a five-game partial stadium closure and a €45,000 fine by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) following the racist abuse directed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior by their fans. During a La Liga match between Valencia and Real Madrid at Mestalla Stadium, Vinicius was allegedly subjected to monkey chants from the crowd, prompting the player to threaten to leave the pitch. Real Madrid filed a complaint with the Spanish State Attorney General’s Office, labelling the abuse as a “hate crime.”
The RFEF released a statement confirming the sanctions, stating that it had been proven, as recorded by the referee in his report, that racist shouts were directed at Vinicius, which disrupted the normal course of the match. The Mario Kempes south stand of Mestalla Stadium will be partially closed for five matches, and Valencia has been fined €45,000. The club has a period of 10 working days to appeal the decision.
The incident has sparked widespread condemnation within La Liga, with players and officials joining together to express their solidarity against racism. Ahead of subsequent matches, players from both teams, along with match officials, stood behind banners reading “Racism, out of football.” La Liga also shared a pre-match video clip from the Celta Vigo vs. Girona game, emphasizing their stance against racism with the hashtag #JUNTOSContraElRacismo (#TOGETHERagainstRacism).
Vinicius Jr receives support
During the Valladolid vs. Barcelona game, fans demonstrated their support for Vinicius, and Barcelona forward Raphinha removed his shirt upon being substituted to reveal a message supporting the Brazilian player. The competition committee of Spain’s football authorities rescinded Vinicius’s red card from the Valencia match, stating that the referee’s assessment had been influenced by an incomplete understanding of the incident.
In response to the incident, the Spanish Sports Council, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, and La Liga have joined forces to launch a campaign against racism. The campaign aims to unite institutions, clubs, athletes, and fans in eradicating racism from football. Measures include broadcasting the campaign during matches, displaying information leaflets for fans, and featuring slogans on players’ armbands and starting line-up placards.
This recent incident has prompted La Liga to seek greater jurisdiction to punish clubs whose fans engage in racist abuse. Currently, La Liga can only identify and report incidents, with punishments being infrequent. Additionally, four individuals were arrested for allegedly hanging an effigy of Vinicius off a bridge in January, and Valencia has confirmed that three fans suspected of racial abuse have been identified, although they deny that their fanbase as a whole is racist.
Valencia CF has emphasized their condemnation of racism and called for a responsible and accurate approach to the matter, rejecting the characterization of their fans as racist. The club asserts that the alleged racist remarks were not made by the entire stadium, urging respect and stating that racism has no place in football or society.