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RFEF orders partial Mestalla closure for Vinicius racism

Featured image credit: Derek Rankine/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

Valencia has hit out at the “unfair and disproportionate penalty” of a partial closure of its Estadio de Mestalla following the racist abuse suffered by Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr during a LaLiga match between the two clubs on Sunday.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has acted following the incidents at the weekend, which hit the headlines across the world. The RFEF’s Competition Committee, consisting of a member apiece from the federation, LaLiga and the Spanish Sports Council (CSD), has ruled that the Mestalla’s Mario Kempes south stand most close for five matches, while also issuing a €45,000 (£39,053/$48,526) fine to Valencia.

The RFEF said: “It is considered proven that, as reflected by the referee in his minutes, there were racist shouts at Vinicius, a Real Madrid CF player, during the aforementioned match, altering the normal course of the match.”

The RFEF added that it considers the infractions “very serious”, stating that Valencia has the right to appeal. If the sanctions stand, they will affect Valencia’s final home game of this season, against Espanyol on Sunday, along with the first four matches of the 2023-24 campaign.

Following the RFEF’s announcement yesterday (Tuesday) evening, Valencia said: “Valencia CF wishes to show its total disagreement and indignation at the unfair and disproportionate penalty imposed by the Competition Committee on the club with the closure of the Grada de Animación for five games. 

“Valencia CF wants to publicly denounce that in this resolution of the RFEF Competition Committee they show evidence that contradicts what the National Police and LaLiga say. In addition, this sanction is based on evidence that the club has not been able to see and without giving us a hearing.

“Valencia CF has condemned, condemns and will continue to condemn in the most energetic way any act of racism or violence. These behaviours have no place in football or in society and we will continue to act in the most forceful way to eradicate this scourge. For this reason, Valencia CF is collaborating from the first minute with the police and all relevant authorities to clarify the events that occurred last Sunday. 

“In addition, it has applied the maximum possible sanction with the expulsion for life from our stadium to the fans that the police have identified for their racist behaviour. For this reason we consider that penalising and depriving all the fans who were not involved in these unfortunate incidents from seeing their team is a totally disproportionate, unfair and unprecedented measure against which we will fight.”

Signing off its statement with a message of “Together Against Racism”, Valencia said it will appeal the RFEF’s sanctions. Sunday’s game, which was won 1-0 by Valencia, saw Vinicius targeted by chants from sections of the home crowd, with the game being suspended in the second half for 10 minutes.

Vinicius was sent off for violent conduct in added time following an altercation with striker Hugo Duro, with his red card also overturned by the RFEF yesterday. The 22-year-old Brazilian international has been repeatedly targeted with racist abuse in recent seasons and posted the following message on Monday to his 6.8 million followers on Twitter.

Spanish police have this week arrested three men in connection with Sunday’s game, plus a further four in relation to incidents surrounding January’s Copa del Rey game between Real and city rival Atletico de Madrid.