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Arrests made after football star’s effigy hangs from bridge – Reuters

The arrests come two days after Vinicius Junior was the target of racist abuse during a Spanish Cup game

Spanish police have arrested four men in connection with an incident in January in which an effigy of Real Madrid footballer Vinicius Junior was hung from a bridge in Madrid. The arrests come just days after the Brazilian was repeatedly the target of racial abuse during a Spanish league game on Sunday.

The four men, aged 19 to 24, were arrested in Madrid on Tuesday and are “suspected of a hate crime for having suspended a mannequin with Vinicius’ shirt from a bridge”, police said in a statement. Three of the men are suspected of being members of a group of extreme Atletico Madrid football team supporters and had previously been identified as being at high risk of violence, police said.

“The investigation conducted by the police through collected evidence, witnesses and open source digital research, among others, has identified the four men suspected of the crime,” he added. the authorities of the Spanish capital announced on Tuesday.

The arrests stem from a January 26 incident in which a crude effigy bearing the likeness of Vinicius and bearing the message ‘Madrid hate Real Madrid’ was suspended from a bridge near Real Madrid’s training center ahead of a Copa del Rey game against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Vinicius, who is black, has repeatedly been the target of racist abuse over the past two seasons in the Spanish La Liga, although most of the cases were dropped by prosecutors after formal complaints were filed with the authorities. authorities. On Sunday, he threatened to walk off the pitch in retaliation for taunts from Valencia supporters. The club have since banned a life supporter in response to what Real Madrid called a “hate crime”.

The Brazilian footballer, considered one of the best players of his generation, has received support from several personalities around the world following Sunday’s incident. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – widely known as Lula – said on Monday that “we cannot allow fascism and racism to dominate football stadiums.” Vinicius has called on Spanish football leaders to take a tougher line on issues of racism in the game.

Racial taunts have been a recurring problem in European football for some time. In February, Vinicius was the victim of racist insults from Mallorca fans during a game. As a result, the club withdrew a fan’s membership for three years. The Spanish league has also been forced to deal with similar cases of players being racially abused in recent seasons, including Valencia’s Mouctar Diakhaby, Bilbao’s Inaki Williams and former Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

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