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Valencia fans sentenced to eight months in prison for racist abuse against Vinicius Jr

By primenewsghana
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Three Valencia football fans were sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday for hate crimes against Real Madrid player Vinicius Jr, the first conviction for racist insults in a football stadium in Spain, the court announced.

"The ruling handed down today, which is final, establishes as proven that the three defendants insulted Vinicius with shouts, gestures and chants referring to the colour of his skin," the court said in a statement.

"These shouts and gestures of a racist nature, consisting among other things in the repetition of the sounds and imitating the movements of monkeys, caused the footballer feelings of frustration, shame and humiliation, with the consequent undermining of his intrinsic dignity."

In Spain, prison sentences of less than two years for non-violent crimes rarely require a defendant without previous convictions to serve jail time so the three are likely to remain free unless they commit further offences.

The three supporters, who pleaded guilty to the charges, were also banned from entering football stadiums for two years and ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

"This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain as it repairs the damage suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to insult that LaLiga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them," LaLiga president Javier Tebas said.

The events happened at Valencia's Mestalla stadium in May last year, when racist slurs were hurled at Vinicius, who is Black, during a league match.

They led to an outpouring of support for the Brazilian forward and galvanised a series of local and international campaigns, including the creation of a FIFA anti-racism committee made up of players.

"During the hearing, the defendants read a letter of apology to Vinicius Jr, LaLiga and Real Madrid," LaLiga said in a statement on Monday.

The court confirmed to Reuters that the sentences had been handed down and said they would be officially announced later in the day.

Vinicius helped Real Madrid to win the Champions League this past season. He was named the competition's player of the season and is one of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or for the world's best player in October.

Sixteen incidents of racist abuse against Vinicius have been reported to Spanish prosecutors by LaLiga in the last two seasons.

In March, Vinicius broke down in tears at a press conference and said he was struggling to stay motivated and enjoy playing football due to the recurring abuse, urging Spanish authorities to take action.

In April, Spanish TV station Movistar Plus+ fired analyst German Burgos after Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain refused to give interviews to the network following a comment he made about Barcelona's Lamine Yamal which was interpreted as racist.

In the same month, Atletico Madrid and Getafe were ordered to partially close their stands following racist and xenophobic abuse in a LaLiga game, while a third-division match between Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River was suspended after Rayo's Senegalese goalkeeper Cheikh Kane Sarr confronted a rival fan who he said was racially abusing him.