Three arrested in Valencia after alleged racist abuse of Vinicius Jr

(Update: edits headline, lede, adds reactions, info on release of detainees)

Valencia, Spain, May 23 (EFE).- Spanish police arrested three people on Tuesday for allegedly racially abusing Brazilian Real Madrid striker Vinicius Jr during a LaLiga match against Valencia at the weekend.

In a brief statement, police said that all the detainees are Spanish and are aged 18 to 21, and have been charged with an alleged crime related to the exercise of fundamental rights and public liberties.

The three were later released after questioning.

The prosecutor of hate crimes of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Valencia, Susana Gisbert, said Monday that she had opened a criminal investigation into whether the insults could constitute a hate crime, although the events were still being reviewed and there is no open court case at the moment.

Valencian community government delegate Pilar Bernabe said three of the alleged perpetrators had been identified, although they are still working on viewing videos from both inside and outside the Mestalla stadium where the alleged incident occurred on Sunday.

The arrests come amid a national debate in Spain that has been triggered by the alleged racist abuse against Vinicius.

Spanish government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez condemned the racist insults, but insisted that such behavior in Spain “does not go unpunished – they are prosecuted and punished,” she said.

In his remarks on Sunday night after the game, Brazil international Vinicius had said that Spain was seen in his homeland as a racist country, and that LaLiga “belongs to racists.”

After the press conference of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, Rodríguez said “it is not possible to be neutral” when confronted with this sort of behavior, insisting that in Spain there is “full legal security in the police and judicial actions” so that these incidents do not go unpunished.

The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, has called for reform to how cases of racist abuse are treated by football authorities.

“Real Madrid will not tolerate any more racist insults or incidents against any of our players,” Perez told a press conference.

“For that, it is essential to radically change the structure of refereeing in football in our country, so that the victim can never be held responsible for the crime committed against them, which is what is happening at the moment.”

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti echoed Perez’s words, saying the protocols relating to racist incidents at stadiums are “obsolete.”

“The protocol is obsolete because it should be applied from the moment the bus arrives at the stadium. That’s when the insults started,” Ancelotti told a press conference.

“Those who say Vinicius is a provocateur, that’s the end of it, because two hours before he was insulted. And not by one or two. These are not isolated cases,” the Italian added. EFE


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