Valencia fans jailed for racially abusing Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr

Three Valencia football fans who racially abused Real Madrid star Vinicius Jr have each been jailed for eight months.

The convictions are the first for racist abuse at a football match in Spain, according to LaLiga - and were described as "great news for the fight against racism".

The league said the prison terms follow an incident at Valencia's Mestalla stadium on 21 May 2023.

The individuals were also given a two-year stadium ban from any venue hosting LaLiga matches, or games held under the jurisdiction of the Spanish football federation.

LaLiga said Valencia had co-operated with the investigation and had expelled the three people as members of the club.

A letter of apology to Brazil forward Vinicius Jr from the defendants was also read out during the hearing, the league added.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: "This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain, as it goes some way to redressing the disgraceful wrong suffered by Vinicius Jr and sends a clear message to those individuals who go to a football stadium to hurl abuse.

"LaLiga will identify them, report them, and there will be criminal consequences.

"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.

"We at LaLiga can only respect the pace of justice, but once again we demand that Spanish legislation evolves to give LaLiga sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism."

At present LaLiga can only bring the facts of a case to the relevant legal authorities, and is unable to sanction clubs, fans or players for hateful conduct, racism or violent acts.

In March, Vinicius Jr broke down in tears during a press conference while speaking about the ongoing racist abuse he suffers in Spain.

He said the abuse was making him feel less motivated to play football.

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The 23-year-old said: "It never crossed my mind [to leave Spain] because if I leave Spain I give the racists exactly what they want.

"I will stay because that way the racists can continue to see my face more and more.

"I'm a bold player, I play for Real Madrid and we win a lot of titles and that doesn't sit well with a lot of people."