Fans Get Jail Time Over Racial Abuse Of Soccer Star Vinícius Jr.

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Three fans are facing jail time over the racist abuse of Brazilian soccer star Vinícius Júnior during a match at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, ESPN reports.

Last May, a game between Real Madrid and Valencia was suspended after Vinícius identified a fan in the crowd who was racially abusing him. The soccer star later called out how the issue was handled, saying "Racism is normal in LaLiga," the Spanish league.

Three fans were found guilty on Monday (June 10) of a crime against moral integrity aggravated by racially motivated discrimination in connection to the May 2023 incident. The fans were initially sentenced to 12 months in prison, but it was reduced by 1/3 to eight months per a principle that reduces punishments for defendants who accept criminal responsibility.

The three were also banned from the stadium for three years, which was reduced to two under the principle.

Vinícius spoke out about the verdict in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

"Many people asked me to ignore it, others said that my fight was in vain and that I should just 'play football'," Vinícius said. "But, as I've always said, I'm not a victim of racism. I am an executioner of racists. This first criminal conviction in Spanish history is not for me. It's for all black people.

"Let the other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows," he continued. "Otherwise, I'll be here to call them out. Thank you to LaLiga and Real Madrid for helping to bring about this historic condemnation. There's more to come."

LaLiga also applauded the verdict, noting that it was the first of its kind in Spain.

"This ruling is great news regarding the fight against racism in Spain," LaLiga president Javier Tebas said in a statement. "It redresses the wrong suffered by Vinícius Júnior and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse. LaLiga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them."

"I understand that there may be some frustration at the length of time it takes for these sentences to be handed down, but this shows that Spain is a country that guarantees judicial integrity," he continued. "LaLiga can only respect the pace of justice, and once again demand that Spanish legislation evolves so that LaLiga has sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism."

On Monday, the fans' lawyers requested that their sentences be suspended, which is a common practice in Spain for sentences under two years. It's unclear when the judge will rule on their request.

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