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Real Madrid files complaint with prosecutor over Vinícius 'hate crime' abuse by Valencia fans

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, reacts during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid, at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, May 21,
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, reacts during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid, at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Sunday, May 21, Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said the game should have been stopped, while Brazil's President Lula said action must be taken against racism and fascism in football stadiums.

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Real Madrid football club has filed a complaint with the Spanish prosecutor's office, alleging its player Vinícius Júnior was the target of racist chants from opposing fans before and during Sunday's game against Valencia. 

The club says the insults legally constitute a "hate crime" against the Braziian striker. 

"Real Madrid condemns the events that occurred yesterday (Sunday, editor's note) against our player Vinicius Junior and opposes them vigorously", the club said in a statement. 

Writing on Twitter, Vinícius said the Spanish league "now belongs to racists."

“It wasn't the first time, or the second or the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. The competition thinks it's normal, as does the federation, and the opponents encourage it," Vinícius said. 

"The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and (Lionel) Messi now belongs to racists ... But I'm strong and I will fight until the end against the racists. Even if far from here.”

The 22-year-old Vinícius, who is Black, has been subjected to repeated racist abuse since moving to Spain five years ago.

Valencia fans chant "Vinicius is a monkey" as Real Madrid arrive at the stadium

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday condemned insults hurled at Vinícius, and demanded action against "fascism and racism" in stadiums.

"He was attacked. He was called a monkey," Lula said indignantly during a press conference in Hiroshima (Japan), after a G7 summit to which he had been invited.

"It is not possible, in the middle of the 21st century, to have such strong racial prejudices in so many football stadiums", he added, expressing his "solidarity" with regard to the Brazilian striker.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti considered replacing the star forward after Vinícius said fans at Mestalla chanted “monkey” toward him. He said Vinícius initially didn't want to continue playing.

“What happened today shouldn’t happen," Ancelotti said. “When a stadium yells ‘monkey’ to a player, and the coach considers taking him out of the field because of that, it means that there is something bad in this league."

The veteran coach refused to talk about the game after what happened, saying his team's loss meant nothing.

“The game should have been stopped,” Ancelotti said. “This shouldn’t happen. It wasn’t only one person, as it has happened in several stadiums. Here, it was a stadium racially insulting a player, the game had to stop. I would have said the same thing if it was 3-0 for us. You have to stop the game, there was no way around it.”

Ancelotti said he asked the referee to stop the match, but was told that the protocol was to first make an announcement to fans, then take other action if the problem continued.

Ancelotti said Vinícius didn’t want to keep playing but he told the player that he wasn’t guilty of anything and that he was the victim. Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said he would have left the field with Vinicius if his teammate had decided to stop playing.

“Vinícius is upset, obviously, but more than upset, he is sad,” Ancelotti said.

According to Spanish media reports, Valencia has identified two fans who allegedly insulted Vinícius behind one of the goals.

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Some comments on social media claimed fans were saying the Spanish word “tonto” (silly) instead of “mono” (monkey).

Valencia later said it expected Ancelotti to apologise to Valencia fans for accusing them of racism after misunderstanding what was said. The coach told a news conference that the referee wouldn't have started the racism protocol if he didn't think there was racism in the stadium.

Vinícius was later sent off after an altercation with Valencia players, and gestured to home fans about their team’s fight against relegation as he left the field. Valencia took a huge step toward avoiding the drop with the 1-0 victory opening a five-point gap to the bottom three teams entering the final three rounds.

“The reward for the racists was my ejection!” Vinícius said on Instagram, along with the Spanish league's slogan “It's not soccer, it's LaLiga.”

Vinícius had called the referee around the 70th minute and started pointing to a person sitting among the Valencia supporters. The player went near the stands and confronted the fans while players from both teams tried to restore calm.

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Police eventually arrived in the stands to deal with the supporters. An announcement was made asking fans to behave.

The match at Mestalla was stopped for about seven minutes, and not long after it resumed Vinícius clashed with Valencia players and was sent off for pushing one of his opponents away with a hand to his face.

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