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Nota de Prensa

MON 10.06.2024 | Nota de Prensa

LALIGA lands first conviction in Spain for racist abuse at a football match

The three perpetrators were sentenced to 8 months imprisonment, given a 2-year bans from enter a stadium, and ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings.

Nota de Prensa

MON 10.06.2024

The first conviction for racist insults at a football match in Spain was handed down today, as a result of a complaint filed directly and initially by LALIGA to the courts.

The sentence, passed against the racist chants directed against Vinicius Jr on 21st May 2023 in Mestalla by three individuals, found the defendants guilty of a crime against moral integrity of art. 173.1 of the Penal Code with aggravating circumstance of discrimination based on racist motives (art. 22.4 P.C.)

The sentence amounted to 12 months‘ imprisonment, which was reduced by a third as a result of an agreement at the preliminary investigation stage, leaving the actual sentence for the three accused at 8 months in prison plus the costs of the proceedings. Additionally, the guilty parties will be banned from entering any football stadium where LALIGA and/or RFEF matches are played for a period of three years initially, but reduced to two years under the above mentioned procedural grounds.

It should be recalled that from the outset, Valencia CF cooperated in the identification of the accused and immediately proceeded to expel them as members of the club.

This is the first conviction of its kind to be handed down in Spain, following a case brought before the courts by LALIGA, which was joined by the RFEF, Real Madrid and, in recent weeks, the victim himself, Vinicius Jr.

During the hearing, the defendants read a letter of apology to Vinicius Jr, LALIGA and Real Madrid, acknowledging that LALIGA had fought against racism and had acted decisively at a legal and institutional level from the outset, both in this case as well as in others.

“This ruling is great news regarding the fight against racism in Spain, as it redresses the wrong suffered by Vinicius Jr. and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse. LALIGA will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them,” said LALIGA President Javier Tebas.

“I understand that there may be some frustration at the length of time it takes for these sentences to be handed down, but this shows that Spain is a country that guarantees judicial integrity. As such, we at LALIGA can only respect the pace of justice, but once again demand that Spanish legislation evolves so LALIGA has sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism,”added the president.

LALIGA's fight against racism

LALIGA has been a leader in the fight against racism for years, through raising awareness, detection and reporting.

LALIGA doesn't have the power to sanction clubs, fans or players for hateful conduct, racism, violence, etc. The existing legislation in Spain only allows it to bring the facts before the relevant authorities.

For this reason, since the 2015/2016 season, LALIGA has reported all violence and abuse occurring inside and outside stadiums to the State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport, as well as to the RFEF's Competition Committee.

In January 2020, as a result of some disgraceful racist insults against Athletic Club player Iñaki Williams, LALIGA decided to go one step further, turning directly to the justice system, either through the Hate Prosecutor's Office, the Courts or the National Police, for cases involving offences which fall under the Penal Code.

In fact, the case concerning Iñaki Williams should have been the first to obtain a judgement because of when it happened, but several procedural difficulties have slowed down the judicial process.

On several occasions, LALIGA has requested an amendment to Law 19/2007 of 11 July 2007 against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport, and Law 39/2022 of 30 December 2007 on sport, in order to have sanctioning powers in such cases, which would significantly reduce the time required to impose any sanctions.

Furthermore, a few years ago, LALIGA created the LALIGA VS initiative, a project between LALIGA and the clubs that aims to eradicate hatred inside and outside the stadiums, by promoting a respectful and inclusive society on all levels. The project seeks to inspire and raise awareness among fans using the values of football in order to build a society free of hate and discrimination.

Over the last eight years, more than 700 initiatives and projects have been undertaken by LALIGA and its clubs. Specifically, over the last five years, LALIGA EA SPORTS and LALIGA HYPERMOTION clubs have have implemented 44 campaigns aimed at curbing hate speech, using education as a foundation, prevention through awareness-raising campaigns, and taking direct action.

© LALIGA - 2024