Four arrested over Vinicius effigy hung off bridge

Four people have been arrested in connection with the hanging of a mannequin wearing a Vinicius Junior shirt from a bridge in January near Real Madrid’s training ground, Spanish police said on Tuesday.

A banner with the words “Madrid hates Real” — a slogan associated with a group of Atletico Madrid hardcore ultras — was displayed alongside the effigy, before the Copa del Rey quarterfinal between Madrid and Atletico at the Bernabeu.

The arrests come amid a global outcry over the racist abuse suffered by Vinicius during Madrid’s 1-0 LaLiga defeat to Valencia at Mestalla on Sunday.

The game stopped for almost 10 minutes when Vinicius identified a Valencia fan behind the goal as having racially abused him, while videos on social media showed fans abusing the Brazil international before and during the match.

Brazilian politicians, including president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have come out in support of Vinicius, criticising racism in Spanish football.

The lights on Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue were switched off for an hour on Monday in a display of solidarity with the player.

In a social media post on Sunday, Vinicius said “racism is normal in LaLiga” and “the championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi, today belongs to racists.”

LaLiga have now reported a total of 10 cases involving racist abuse aimed at Vinicius to prosecutors over the last two seasons, including the mannequin hung from the bridge, and Sunday’s events at Mestalla.

Atletico described the bridge incident as “repugnant” and “unacceptable” in a statement published after it happened.

It followed a group of Atletico fans being filmed directing racist abuse at Vinicius outside their Metropolitano stadium ahead of the previous derby with Madrid in September.

Prosecutors chose not to press charges in that case, arguing that the chanting, while “unpleasant” and “disrespectful,” lasted “a few seconds” and did not constitute a criminal offence.

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