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Vinicius Junior: Real Madrid star repeats call for action against racism as four arrested over January effigy

Vinicius Jr was subject to racist abuse during Real Madrid's 1-0 defeat to Valencia on Sunday; four people suspected of hanging an effigy of Vinicius from a bridge in Madrid in January arrested; Warning: The article below contains language that readers may find offensive and distressing

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Two days on from Real Madrid's visit to the Mestalla, Vinicius Jr has released a new statement on his experiences of LaLiga

Real Madrid have reported the racist abuse Vinicius Junior suffered at Valencia on Sunday as a hate crime, while the winger said LaLiga "belongs to the racists".

Vinicius was targeted by chants from sections of the crowd at the Mestalla during Real's 1-0 loss to Valencia, with the game being stopped in the second half for 10 minutes as the visibly angry 22-year-old grabbed the referee and pointed towards fans who he felt had abused him.

Vinicius was later sent off for violent conduct in added time following an altercation with striker Hugo Duro.

The Brazilian has repeatedly been targeted with racist abuse, with LaLiga filing nine criminal complaints in the last two seasons.

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Vinicius Jr was absent from Real Madrid's training on Tuesday morning as the club prepared for their home game against Rayo Vallecano

On Tuesday, Spanish police said they had arrested four people suspected of hanging an effigy of Vinicius from a bridge in Madrid in January.

The effigy was hung on the morning of a Copa del Rey fixture between Real and city rivals Atletico Madrid, along with the words "Madrid hates Real".

LaLiga has also called for a change to Spanish law in order to be given sanctioning powers to help it fight racism more effectively.

At the current time, LaLiga can only identify and report cases, but will now proactively seek an amendment to the law that enables it to enact disciplinary action moving forward.

After the latest incident on Sunday, Vinicius tweeted: "It wasn't the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in LaLiga. 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.

Valencia sponsor Puma offers Vinicius support

Puma, the sports clothing manufacturer that sponsors both Valencia and LaLiga, offered its support for Vinicius, saying: "At PUMA, we do not tolerate racism, we condemn discrimination in any form and stand in solidarity with Vinicius Junior and the wider football community in condemning events yesterday (Sunday)."

Spanish bank Santander, whose title sponsorship with LaLiga ends after this season, also voiced its support.

"Santander strongly rejects all racism and discrimination in whatever form it takes," read a statement.

"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."

He also tweeted on Monday night: "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. None to tell a sad story or make those fake public apologies.

"What is missing to criminalise these people? And punish clubs sportingly? Why don't sponsors charge LaLiga? Don't televisions bother to broadcast this barbarity every weekend?

"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."

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He added: "Black and imposing. Christ the Redeemer was just like that. An action of solidarity that moves me. But I want, above all, to inspire and bring more light to our struggle.

"I really appreciate all the chain of affection and support I've received in the last few months. Both in Brazil and around the world. I know exactly who's who. Count on me because the good ones are the majority and I won't give up.

"I have a purpose in life and if I have to suffer more and more so that future generations don't go through similar situations. I'm ready and prepared."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino told LaLiga to "stop talking, start acting" and demanded five points be enacted to improve the situation, including education in schools and banning those found guilty of racism from stadiums worldwide.

A statement from Real on Monday read: "Real Madrid strongly condemns the events that took place yesterday against our player Vinicius Junior. These events represent a direct attack on the social and democratic model of coexistence of our state based on the rule of law.

"Real Madrid believes that such attacks also constitute a hate crime and has therefore filed the corresponding report with the Attorney General's Office, specifically with the Prosecutor's Office against crimes of hatred and discrimination, in order for the facts to be investigated and for those responsible to be held accountable."

Tebas: Vinicius 'must not be manipulated'

Javier Tebas, the LaLiga president, criticised Vinicius after the game, accusing him of twice failing to appear at arranged meetings with the league regarding his complaints.

Tebas also told Vinicius "it is necessary that you inform yourself", adding: "Do not let yourself be manipulated."

Those comments prompted an angry response from the Real winger, who wrote on Twitter: "Once again, instead of criticising racists, the president of LaLiga appears on social media to attack me.

"As much as you talk and pretend not to read, the image of your championship is shaken.

"Omitting yourself only makes you equal to racists. I want actions and punishments."

LaLiga has said it will request all available images in order to investigate what took place in light of the incident. "If any hate crime is identified, we will take the appropriate legal action," the league said in a statement.

Valencia have announced they will "ban for life" the fans involved in the incident, announcing they have already discovered the identity of one supporter who made racist gestures towards the Real Madrid player.

A club statement read: "Valencia CF have proceeded to open a disciplinary case, will apply the maximum level of severity, including a lifetime stadium ban against the fans involved, and is working closely together with the authorities.

"The club strongly condemn this type of behaviour, which has no place in football and society and does not correspond to the values of Valencia CF and our fans.

"Valencia CF have taken a strong stance against racism and have previously acted with the same forcefulness in 2019, with a lifetime ban for a fan who made fascist gestures to Arsenal fans in a UEFA Europa League game"

The Spanish league has previously lodged complaints of racist chanting or insults against Vinicius, the latest of which was a claim before a court in Mallorca after fans were filmed racially abusing the forward.

Ancelotti: The game should have been stopped

Speaking after the game, Vinicius' manager Carlo Ancelotti said the abuse aimed at his player was unacceptable and told the referee the game should have been stopped.

"What we saw today is unacceptable. An entire stadium chanting racist slurs," the Real boss said.

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Carlo Ancelotti says he asked Vinicius Jr if he wanted to continue to play football after the player was subject to racism

"I don't want to talk about football today, there is no meaning in talking about football today. I told the referee he should have stopped the match.

"LaLiga has a problem. For me Vinicius is the most important player in the world. LaLiga has a problem, these episodes of racism have to stop the match.

"It's the entire stadium that is insulting a player with racist chants and the match has to stop. I would say the same if we were winning 3-0, there is no other way."

Ancelotti later added on Twitter: "Today has been a sad day at Mestalla, where a group of fans have shown their worst version.

"It is time to stop talking and act forcefully. Racism cannot have a place in football or in society. NO TO RACISM ANYWHERE."

Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez also expressed his support for Vinicius on Monday, telling reporters there was "no excuse" for the scenes inside Mestalla the previous night.

He said: "It's a shame that this can happen in 2023. Any act of racism, on any pitch against any player, there are no excuses.

"We need to condemn these people for these acts of racism like we've seen against Vinicius, and I think that's what Valencia are doing. They are trying to identify these people and charge them.

"We need to stand up very strongly against racism."

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Barcelona manager Xavi has strongly condemned racism in football and backed Vinicius Jr following Sunday's incident at Mestalla

Vickery: Vinicius has had enough

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South American football correspondent Tim Vickery, explains Brazil's view on the situation between Vinicius Jr and LaLiga, following Sunday's match between Real Madrid and Valencia at the Mestalla

South American football expert Tim Vickery told Sky Sports News that word has begun to spread in Brazil that Vinicius has "had enough" after facing months of racism in LaLiga and that without a strong response to the latest incident, he would likely want to leave Real Madrid.

"He's just extended his contract until 2027, but unless there are severe consequences to a problem clearly allowed to grow out of control, I think he will be very unhappy to continue his career at Real Madrid," he said.

"In the insignificance of my opinion, it would've been better if he'd walked off. It totally extrapolates football, and if - and I apologise for the pretention here - if I were in the position of Carlo Ancelotti here, the older, one would hope wiser man, I would've said walk off - if this is too much, and it is too much, walk off.

"Brazil is by no means blameless - he hasn't got just where he's got by talent, he's had to overcome prejudice in Brazil before he did in Spain. It's much more public and damaging in Spain because he seems so isolated, but now the Brazilian nation stands behind him too.

"With Neymar's injury problems and uncertain future, whoever the next Brazil coach is, and it could be Ancelotti, Vinicius has now become the leading attacking weapon of the Brazilian national side."

Valencia director expects Ancelotti apology

Responding to the statements made by Ancelotti after the game, Valencia corporate director and spokesperson Javier Solis said: "In light of the unfortunate and completely incorrect statements by Mr Ancelotti, in which he branded all of the fans at Mestalla as racist, the club cannot tolerate this.

"We reject these complaints head-on. Possibly it is the result of a mistake in the language and he must have understood another word as being said.

"The club condemn any type of racist insults and are working to identify the people who allegedly made a gesture or action, but calling all the Valencia fans racist is nonsense and the club cannot remain silent.

"We understand that when Ancelotti realises the mistake he has made and the very serious statements he has made, he should apologise, in the same way that both the coach and I condemn any racist insult. In the same way, when he realises the mistake he has made, he should apologise."

Valencia earlier released a statement on their club website condemning what happened and confirming they will investigate.

"Valencia wish to publicly condemn insults and attacks of all kinds in football," it read.

"The club have a firm commitment to the values of respect and sportsmanship and reiterate our position against physical and verbal violence in stadiums. Thus, we are saddened by the events that occurred during the LaLiga matchday 35 match against Real Madrid.

"Although this is an isolated episode, insults to any opposing player have no place in football and do not fit with the values and identity of Valencia.

"The club are investigating what occurred and will take the most severe measures against the perpetrators. Valencia also condemn any offence and request the utmost respect for our fans.

"Whilst strongly denouncing these isolated incidents, Valencia would like to thank the more than 46,000 fans in attendance for their support for the team."

Kick It Out: Authorities must do more

Kick It Out, the anti-discrimination body, said Vinicius is not receiving the necessary protection and urged Spanish authorities to do more.

"Vinicius has now been subjected to racism numerous times this season while simply playing football for Real Madrid, and it has clearly taken its toll," said Kick It Out in a statement.

"How could it not? And yet the response from the Spanish football authorities has been to criticise him.

"Perpetrators of this shocking and continued racism need to be punished and banned by clubs. Clubs need to be held accountable and be sanctioned by LaLiga.

"Spanish authorities need to take further action against this problem. So far, it is not working.

"Currently the welfare of Vinicius is not being protected and that needs to change. This behaviour should not be tolerated by anyone involved in football."

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