Credit: X

Credit: X

For the first time in history, a conviction has been made for racist abuse at a football game in Spain as three Valencia fans have been sentenced to eight months in prison for racially abusing Real Madrid star forward Vinicius Junior. On May 21, 2023, Brazilian star Vinicius was subjected to racial slurs from spectators during Real Madrid's 1-0 loss to Valencia in La Liga.

After Vinicius identified the Valencia supporters in the crowd, who were criticising him, the game was paused for ten minutes. Later, during extra time, he got into a fight with Valencia's players and was dismissed. The 23-year-old later lashed out at the Spanish league on social media, saying "Racism is normal in La Liga."

On Monday, three Valencia fans were found guilty of racial discrimination under article 173.1 of Spain's Criminal Code. Initially, they were sentenced to a 12-month prison, which was reduced to eight months after the defendants accepted "criminal responsibility." Apart from the jail sentence, the fans also received a three-year stadium ban, reduced to two years for the same reason.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas appreciated the judgement and said, "This ruling is great news regarding the fight against racism in Spain. It redresses the wrong suffered by Vinicius Junior 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. 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."