Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid player. (Reuters/Pablo Morano)
According to official figures, in 2021, the State Security Forces and Corps recorded a total of 1,802 hate crimes, of the global data, 35% were incidents related to racism or xenophobia, despite the data, Spain continues to punish little of this type of behavior.
In 2021, despite the more than 1,800 crimes registered by the security forces, only 91 convictions were handed down for hate crimes or considering hate as an aggravating circumstance of the criminal offense, 30% of them had a racist motivation .
This contradiction reopens the debate on whether there are enough tools to combat racism and how they are applied when racist episodes occur, such as the one suffered last Sunday by the Brazilian Real Madrid player, Vinicius Junior in Valencia, events that have led the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Valencia to open investigative proceedings and for which three young people between the ages of 18 and 21 have been arrested this Tuesday.
The Government has been blunt and in the press conference after the Council of Ministers: the spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez has condemned the insults hurled at Vinicius and has asserted that in Spain such behaviors “do not go unpunished, they are persecuted and punished.”
“We have the mechanisms to pursue them in all areas, not just sports. There are those who justify these behaviors, we have seen it and it is not possible to be neutral; We must be blunt and we must say that we are anti-racist because we combat these behaviors and work to eradicate them,” Rodríguez highlighted.
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The EFE agency has contacted lawyers specialized in this matter and they have agreed that Spanish legislation provides sufficient tools to combat this type of crime, although they consider that there is a lack of will to apply them.
Specifically, the sanctions and penalties contemplated in cases of hate crimes can be through administrative channels, through Law 19/2007 of July 11 against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport, which applied by the State Anti-Violence Commission, and by criminal means in application of article 510 of the Penal Code, which punishes hate crimes with between one and four years in prison.
In addition, in each province there is a Prosecutor’s Office against hate crimes and discrimination that is governed by a circular of the State Attorney General’s Office of 2007.
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“There are plenty of tools, the legislation is well done. There is jurisprudence, and the Supreme Court has made it clear”, lawyer Óscar Vicario stressed to EFE, recalling the decision of the High Court to confirm the sentence of 32 months in prison for four Catalan independentistas for hate crimes when attacking some volunteers from the Spanish Soccer Team.
Vicario has remarked that this type of crime requires proof of the facts, authorship and racial motivation and has considered that Vinicius’ case is “clear”: “A mass of people harassed him, 100, 200, 500 people, we don’t know, but for now we have to try to do something with the Penal Code in hand”, he said.
The lawyer recalled that the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office was the pioneer in this type of case when the soccer player Samuel Eto’o played for Barcelona in the early 2000s and received racist insults and shouts imitating those of a monkey. On that occasion, the perpetrators could not be identified and the case was closed.
However, in the case of the racist shouting suffered by the Athletic Club player, Iñaki Williams in a match in 2020 at the Espanyol stadium, a trial date is awaited.
“It is a matter of will and courage to want to apply the laws, those of the administrative sphere and the Penal Code”, Vicario has had an impact, who is confident that the new coordinating room prosecutor against hate crimes and discrimination, whose position has been covered a month ago after a year and a half vacant, “stop being a figurehead as it was before and really go to take the bull by the horns.”
Despite the existence of sufficient legal tools, the feeling of an “impunity scenario” is high
LaLiga has filed nine complaints for racist insults against Vinicius, three of which were filed by the Prosecutor’s Office, in one case for not being able to identify the perpetrators and in others because it understood that the facts did not have the “criminal dimension that is postulated”.
This same reason was why another employer’s complaint was filed for the racist insults received by the Athletic Club player Nico Williams in a Betis-Athletic match, in March 2022, since the Seville Hate Prosecutor’s Office considered that ” Despite their incorrectness, they do not exceed the line of the criminal offence”.
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From Movement Against Intolerance, which was the first to denounce the placement of a banner against Real Madrid and a doll hanging from a bridge with Vinicius’s shirt, acts for which four men between 19 and 24 have been arrested this Tuesday years, they also defend that Spanish legislation contains the necessary tools to combat hate crimes.
“The institutions have been indolent and benevolent and have trivialized the seriousness of the problem, which goes far beyond the soccer field because behind these behaviors is hidden the organized action of the ultras,” its president, Esteban Ibarra, told EFE.
For Ibarra, there is a lack of “debugging” in the investigation, expertise, commitment and “wanting to put an end to this institutional indolence”, and he has remarked that neither Spain nor football are racist, but that there are “racist behaviors in football”.
Raphinha’s beautiful gesture with Vinicius with this message on his shirt: “As long as skin color is more important…” This is the Mario Kempes stands, involved in the controversy over the racist insults to ViniciusRodallega denounced, through tears, racism in the Santa Fe and Gimnasia match: “They called me mono and black”