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Tuesday May 23, 2023 – Four people have been arrested in connection with the hanging of an effigy of Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr back in January, Spanish police have announced.

A hate crime investigation was launched by police after an inflatable doll, donning a Vinicius Jr shirt, appeared under one of the bridges in the Spanish capital.

The effigy was hung alongside a banner that reads: ‘Madrid hates Real Madrid’.

The incident occurred prior to Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey clash against Atletico Madrid.

Spanish police confirmed the arrest of four men from an ultras group, with three having previously been ‘identified during matches classified as high risk.’

‘The investigation began on January 26 after the appearance of an inflatable mannequin hanging from a bridge wearing a Real Madrid player Vinicius shirt,’ a police statement read.

‘In addition, a 16-meter banner was displayed in the same place that read “Madrid hates Real”.

‘The investigations carried out by the investigators through traces, witnesses or consultations in open sources, among others, allowed the identification of four men as alleged perpetrators of the events.

‘In addition, the agents were able to verify that three of the alleged perpetrators belonged to a group of ultras fans of a Madrid club and that, previously, they had been identified during matches classified as high risk within the violence prevention devices in sport.

‘Once the four alleged perpetrators were identified, a device was carried out this morning that allowed their arrest in a coordinated operation with the Investigating Court number 38 of Madrid and the Cyberhate Section of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.’

The incident had been condemned by both Atletico and Real Madrid in January, along with LaLiga.

Vinicius Jnr had previously been targeted by Atletico fans, who allegedly called him a ‘monkey’, during their game at the Civitas Metropolitano on September 18, 2022.

The Brazilian has repeatedly been subjected to racist abuse this season, with the latest incident occurring during Real’s 1-0 loss to Valencia on Sunday.

He was subjected to racist chants before and during the game at the Mestalla Stadium.

Vinicius Jnr gave a stinging criticism of LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation following the match, declaring that Spanish football has reached a new low after previously having a league that was the envy of Europe.

‘It wasn’t the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in LaLiga,’ Vinicius Jnr wrote.

‘The competition thinks it’s normal, the Federation does too and the opponents encourage it. I’m so sorry.

‘The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano and Messi today belongs to racists. A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world.

‘I’m sorry for the Spaniards who don’t agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for everything that happens each week, I have no defense. I agree. But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if far from here.’

Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales has admitted there is a ‘serious problem’ with racism, with the official pledging to work tirelessly to combat the issue.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has claimed that ‘neither Spain nor LaLiga are racist’, with the official claiming Vinicius Jnr’s criticism of the organisation was ‘very unfair’.

Vinicius Jnr released a damning statement on Monday, stating the abuse he has been subjected to this season has been ‘inhuman’ and revealed he had also received death threats.

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