The Spanish league’s handling of the latest incident at Valencia
La Liga will request “more sanctioning powers” so it can punish incidents of racism in Spanish football. Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr has been the target of racist abuse multiple times this season. The Spanish league’s handling of the latest incident at Valencia on Sunday has received widespread condemnation. Under Spanish law, La Liga can currently only identify and report cases but not impose sanctions, making it feel “powerless”. It added it feels “tremendous frustration” at the lack of sanctions and convictions by the authorities to which it reports. Police in Spain said on Tuesday three people had been arrested for “racist behaviour” during Sunday’s match. Police had earlier said they had detained four people suspected of hanging an effigy of Vinicius from a bridge in Madrid earlier this year. La Liga will make a formal request to the Spanish government that two laws are amended to give it authority to impose sanctions such as the total or partial closure of stadiums, bans for supporters and financial penalties. Currently, it submits a weekly letter to the RFEF’s – Spanish football’s federation – competition committee and the State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport detailing any chants at matches that incite violence or contain insulting content. For insults that could be classified as a hate crime, La Liga also reports them to the Hate Prosecutor’s Office. La Liga said it had “long observed with impotence” these reports being “dismissed without even reaching the courts”. It contrasts with Italy, where last month more than 170 Juventus fans were banned for racially abusing Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku during their Coppa Italia semi-final. On Tuesday, Serie A chief executive Luigi de Siervo said the league was taking a “zero tolerance” approach to racist fans, using technology to help identify offenders. “There are in stadiums, as in society, a percentage of racist people,” he said. “Today with technology and stadium microphones they can be heard and we can punish them. It’s a battle – like a tumour, you have to systematically remove it even if it has recurrences.” In a lengthy statement, La Liga detailed some of the “surprising reasons” for which previous reports have been dismissed, such as a defendant not appearing “to be a person who intends to incite racism” from examination of their social media accounts. It also included a summary of cases reported and their judicial status. Of these, nine are related to incidences involving Brazil international Vinicius Jr. On Sunday, Real’s match at Valencia was paused in the second half after an incensed Vinicius reported opposition fans to the referee. After the match, Vinicius and La Liga president Javier Tebas were involved in a row on Twitter, after the Brazilian said La Liga “belongs to racists” and “in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists”. Tebas responded by saying Vinicius twice did not turn up for a meeting to discuss what it “can do in cases of racism”, adding: “Before you criticise and slander La Liga, you need to inform yourself properly.” On Monday the lights on the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were switched off for an hour in solidarity with Vinicius.