From the blog

SPAIN: Thee Valencia Football Fans Jailed For Racial Abuse Of Vinicius Jr

Three Valencia fans have been sentenced to eight months in prison for hate crimes against Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior, in what La Liga described as the first conviction related to racist abuse at a football match in Spain.

The ruling goes back to a match in May last year during which several Valencia fans hurled racist slurs at the Brazilian footballer. The match came to a halt for several minutes as Vinícius pointed to a Valencia fan in the stands, telling his teammates that the man had called him a monkey and made the gestures of an ape.

Images of Vinícius on the Valencia pitch, tears welling in his eyes, swiftly made headlines around the world, recasting a spotlight on Spanish football’s longstanding failure to tackle racism. While Valencia moved to ban the fans from the stadium, Vinícius vowed to fight on. “I will go up against the racists until the very end,” he said.

The individuals were also given a two-year stadium ban from any venue hosting LaLiga matches, or games held under the jurisdiction of the Spanish football federation.

LaLiga said Valencia had co-operated with the investigation and had expelled the three people as members of the club.

A letter of apology to Brazil forward Vinicius Jr from the defendants was also read out during the hearing, the league added.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: “This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain, as it goes some way to redressing the disgraceful wrong suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those individuals who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse.

“LaLiga will identify them, report them, and there will be criminal consequences.