4 arrested on suspicion of hanging Vinicius Junior’s effigy from a bridge
Four people suspected of hanging an effigy of Real Madrid player Vinicius Junior on a motorway bridge in Madrid in January have been arrested, Spanish police said on Tuesday.
The arrests come two days after the latest case of racial slur against the Brazilian striker in a Spanish league game against Valencia.
The effigy was hung by the neck the morning of a derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey. There was also a banner with the words ‘Madrid hate Madrid’.
The perpetrators used a black figure with the name Vinicius, tied a rope around its neck and hung it from an overpass while it was still dark in the Spanish capital.
The hate message on the banner is often used by one of Atletico’s ultra fan groups, although at the time he denied being responsible for the display.
Police said the four people arrested were between the ages of 19 and 24. Authorities said some were identified at matches considered to be at high risk of violence.
Police showed footage of them arriving handcuffed and escorted by officers on Tuesday.
Spanish media said some were from Atletico’s ultras.
Police had used security cameras to identify the perpetrators, but no action had been taken so far.
Vinicius, who is black, has been the subject of repeated racist teasing in Spain, particularly this season after he started celebrating his goals by dancing.
The game against Valencia was temporarily halted after Vinicius said a fan behind one of the goals called him a monkey and made monkey gestures at him. Vinicius considered leaving the pitch but eventually continued playing.
The Brazilian received support from officials and athletes around the world and strongly criticized Spanish football for not doing more to stop racism.
Valencia banned an identified fan for life for insulting Vinicius during the game. Real Madrid took the case to prosecutors as a hate crime.
The Spanish league have filed nine criminal racial abuse complaints against Vinicius in the last two seasons, most of them dismissed by prosecutors.
The league said on Tuesday it would seek to increase its power to impose penalties for hate crimes during games. He had said he could only detect and report the incidents to the authorities and the country’s football federation.
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