Valencia has had its punishment amended following the racist abuse aimed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior by fans during their recent clash.
The Spanish Football Federation appeals committee has decided to “partially uphold” Valencia’s appeal, resulting in a reduction of the club’s penalties.
Initially, Valencia faced a five-match partial closure of the Mestalla Stadium and a €45,000 fine. However, the closure has now been reduced to three matches, and the fine has been cut to €27,000.
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The punishment was a result of racist abuse, including monkey chants from the fans directed toward Vinicius, who threatened to leave the pitch.
Real Madrid promptly filed a complaint with the Spanish State Attorney General’s Office, regarding the incident as a “hate crime.” Valencia had 10 working days to appeal the punishment to the appeals committee, which they did.
This issue has sparked widespread condemnation and calls for action against racism in Spanish football. Players and officials from various La Liga teams, including Real Valladolid, Barcelona, Celta Vigo, and Girona, stood behind banners with the message “Racism, out of football” before Tuesday night’s matches.
Additionally, Vinicius initially faced a two or three-match ban for being sent off during the Valencia game. However, Spain’s competition committee has rescinded the red card decision. The committee is composed of representatives from LaLiga, the Spanish Sports Council (CSD), and the Spanish FA (RFEF).
La Liga has expressed its desire for greater jurisdiction to punish clubs whose fans engage in racist abuse, feeling “powerless” due to the current lack of sanctions. Presently, La Liga can only identify and report incidents, with punishments rarely being handed out.
In a separate development related to Vinicius, Spanish police have arrested four suspects suspected of hanging an effigy of the player off a bridge in January. The incident involved an inflatable doll dressed in a Vinicius shirt with a banner that read ‘Madrid hates Real Madrid’ ahead of the side’s match against city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Despite the reduced punishment, Valencia has appealed for the partial stadium closure to be waived for their final home game of the season against Espanyol, as they face the threat of relegation from the league.
Javier Tebas, the President of La Liga, issued an apology following a Twitter dispute with Vinicius expressing regret for what he believes was perceived criticism of the Real Madrid winger.
Tebas acknowledged that his words may have been misunderstood and apologised for any unintended attack on Vinicius, stating: “I did not want to attack Vinicius, but if most people understood it that way, I need to apologise. It was not my intention, and I expressed myself poorly at a bad time.”
The exchange began when Tebas accused Vinicius of not being properly informed after the player posted a detailed Twitter message highlighting the abuse he faces at stadiums in Spain. Vinicius responded strongly, accusing Tebas of being “equal to racists” for promoting a narrative that suggests La Liga supports him.
Tebas faced criticism in Brazil, with the nation’s president and some of Vinicius’ national team mates voicing support for the player.
“Here is an issue that I always say to my [communication] team: when many people understand the message in a way, they are right. So, I have to repent,” Tebas said.
Tebas: ‘I have to apologise. I didn’t want to attack Vinicius’
“I think that the message, and the intention I had, an important part [of people], especially in Brazil, did not understand.
“But I had no intention of attacking Vinicius, but rather clarifying a situation because Vinicius had recorded a video supporting LaLiga’s actions.
“For me, Vinicius is an asset of Real Madrid, of Spanish football, and we want him with us”, he added. “I feel sorry for what happened, and that’s why we denounced it. And we didn’t just denounce it: we took special actions at his games. We spoke to the clubs, so that they could provide more security, identify fans. La Liga takes care of Vinicius. And, if they misunderstood what happened, I have to apologise,” he added.
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