Authorities seek fans behind hate attack against Vinícius

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior gestures during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID (AP) — Authorities are searching through security cameras and social media to try to identify those responsible for hanging a dummy of Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior from a highway bridge last week.

Members of an anti-violence committee in sports met on Monday and said an investigation was underway to try to find those who hung the dummy and a banner with the words “Madrid hates Real” hours before Real Madrid played Atlético Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

The message on the banner is often used by one of Atletico Madrid’s ultra fans groups, though at the time it denied being responsible for the display.

The hate attack drew widespread condemnation by the clubs and other soccer officials across Spain.

Vinícius scored in Madrid’s 3-1 win at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He said on Twitter after the match that “there is only one Madrid, everyone knows it,” and “Vini loves Madrid.” The next day, the Brazil forward said “love will always beat hate.”

Vinícius was targeted by racist chants earlier this season. Spanish state prosecutors closed a probe into racist chants by Atletico fans before another derby, citing a lack of evidence and downplaying their seriousness because the chants allegedly came within the rivalry setting of a soccer match.

But the anti-violence committee said it was studying punishment to about a dozen Valladolid fans who also insulted Vinícius in a match in December. The committee said the punishment could include fines of 4,000 euros ($4,300) to each individual identified, as well as banning them sports venues for one year.


The Spanish league also reported insults against Vinícius in Madrid’s match at Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league on Jan. 22.

Vinícius, who is Black, has previously complained on social media about being targeted by racists since he came to play in Europe.