Vinícius Jr. scored against Atlético Madrid in Real Madrid’s 3-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final win on Thursday after an effigy of the star was hung from a bridge in Madrid ahead of the match.
Álvaro Morata put Atlético ahead in the first half, but Rodrygo’s superb equalizer sent the quarter-final into extra time.
Atlético were down to 10 men after Stefan Savić was sent off after picking up two yellow cards, with goals from Karim Benzema and Vinícius sealing Real’s victory.
After scoring his goal, Vinícius walked away shouting and clenching his fists before dancing, an act which has already drawn abuse from rival fans.
After the match, the 22-year-old Brazil international posted a photo of himself on social media with the caption “Vini LOVE MADRID! There is only one!»
On Friday morning, Vinícius posted another message saying, «LOVE WILL ALWAYS BEAT HATE.»
Spain’s national police have opened an investigation «for a possible hate crime,» the Madrid region’s national police press office told CNN on Thursday.
In videos that have been widely viewed on social media, the effigy – which was dressed in a Real Madrid shirt with Vinícius’ name and number 20 on the back – was shown hanging from a bridge near the pitch Madrid training shirt with a banner that read: ‘Madrid hates Real.’
Officers from the Hortaleza station, closest to the bridge, went to remove it as soon as they became aware of the effigy Thursday morning around 8:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET), but when they arrived the banner read «Madrid hate Real Madrid» was no longer there, the press office said.
In a statement posted on Twitterthe Spanish league said it «strongly condemns the acts of hatred and intimidation against Vinícius Jr».
«La Liga, as in the past, will push for an investigation into the matter by the relevant state security forces and bodies, seeking convictions for those responsible and asking for the harshest penalties. .»
Atlético said the effigy was «disgusting and unacceptable» and «embarrasses[es] company.»
«Our condemnation of any act undermining the dignity of people or institutions is absolute and unequivocal,» the club said in a statement.
“The rivalry between the two clubs is maximum, but so is the respect. No individual, whatever his intentions or his colors, can taint the coexistence between the two fanbases. It is everyone’s responsibility to avoid this.
“We don’t know who the author or authors of this despicable act are, but their anonymity does not help them to escape their responsibility. We hope that the authorities manage to clarify the circumstances and that justice helps banish these types of behavior.
Real Madrid said they «want to thank the support and signs of care received following the lamentable and repugnant act of racism, xenophobia and hatred against our player Vini Jr».
«We declare our strongest condemnation against these acts which violate the fundamental rights and dignity of people and which have nothing to do with the values that football and sport represent,» he said in a statement. a statement.
“These attacks that our player is currently suffering from, or those that any athlete could suffer, cannot have their place in a society like ours.
«Real Madrid hopes that the responsibilities of whoever participated in these despicable acts will be revealed.»
Vinícius has previously been the victim of racist abuse from opposition supporters.
During Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Real Valladolid on December 30 last year, Vinícius said he was the victim of racist insults from the crowd, with videos on social media showing fans throwing objects at the attacker as they left the pitch when substituted.
Reuters reported that Vinícius later accused La Liga of inaction over racial abuse, to which the Spanish league said a «criminal charge for hate crimes had been filed with the courts of first instance. of Valladolid, supported by audiovisual evidence collected during the investigation carried out through images and audio clips published on open sources.
According to Reuters, La Liga also said it would redouble its efforts to «eradicate any form of violence, racism or xenophobia inside and outside stadiums».
In September 2022, a group of Atlético supporters subjected the 22-year-old to racist chanting during the league derby.
In a video posted to Twitter by Spanish radio station COPE, a large group of Atlético fans outside Atleti’s Metropolitano stadium could be heard chanting: «You are a monkey, Vinícius, you are a monkey .»
Spanish prosecutors closed an investigation last December into racist chants directly directed at Vinícius at Atletico’s Metropolitano stadium because prosecutors said it was not possible to identify who was to blame, a source has said. prosecution source to CNN.
It came just two days after Vinícius condemned what he described as racist criticism he received for his dancing goal celebrations.
During an appearance on Spanish TV in September, Pedro Bravo – a top agent and president of the Association of Spanish Agents – compared the Brazilian’s dancing celebrations after scoring to the behavior of a monkey, arguing that the striker didn’t respect his opponents and ‘should stop playing’. the monkey.»
Bravo was accused of using racist language by numerous people on social media and later apologized on Twitter.
During the derby, after Vinícius’ teammate Rodrygo opened the scoring and the two danced in celebration, several Atlético fans could be seen gesturing towards the Brazilian pair.
Vinícius discussed the racist abuse he faced for his dance celebrations, saying, “They say happiness bothers. The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe disturbs much more.
«But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are much bigger than that. You can’t even imagine it. I was the victim of a xenophobic and racist comment. But none of that didn’t start yesterday. Weeks ago they started criminalizing my dances. Dances that aren’t mine.
«They belong to Ronaldinho, Neymar, [Lucas] packaged, [Antoine] Griezmann, João Félix, Matheus Cunha… they belong to Brazilian funk and samba artists, reggaeton singers and black Americans.
“These are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I will not stop.