Spanish police yesterday arrested four men suspected of hanging a dummy of Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior from a bridge in January in Madrid, and detained three people suspected of hurling racist insults at him during a weekend match.
The arrests come amid an international outcry after racist abuse was hurled at the 22-year-old Brazilian international during a Spanish league match on Sunday.
The four men, who were arrested in Madrid, are “suspected of a hate crime for hanging from a bridge a mannequin with Vinicius’ shirt,” police said in a statement.
Three of the men are members of an group of a Madrid soccer fans who had been identified during matches as representing a high risk of violence.
While the authorities did not name the club they belonged to, Spanish media said they were part of a fan group associated with Atletico Madrid.
Police accompanied their statement with images of the suspects in handcuffs and escorted by officers.
The dummy wearing Vinicius’ jersey was hung by the neck from a highway bridge near Real Madrid’s training ground on January 26 ahead of the club’s match against Atletico.
A banner in the red and white colors of Atletico bearing the message “Madrid hates Real” was also draped over the bridge.
Spanish National Police also said in a statement that they “arrested today three young people in Valencia for the racist behavior that occurred Sunday in the match between Valencia and Real Madrid.”
Sunday’s match was held up for several minutes and the referee wrote in his post-match report that shouts of “monkey” had been directed at Vinicius.
Spanish prosecutors opened an investigation into the incident, which was condemned by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Real Madrid had filed a complaint “in order that the facts be investigated and those responsible be held accountable.”
The club said the chants, in its view, “constitute a hate crime.”
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