Spain and LaLiga are finally handing out tangible punishments to supporters found guilty of racism. Racist incidents are still rampant in Spain, with Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior facing the brunt of the issue. As the Brazilian has continued to dominate in Spain, unruly fans of rival clubs have resorted to racism to vent their frustrations.

LaLiga filed a complaint to Spanish courts stemming from an incident on May 21, 2023. Valencia supporters at the Mestalla Stadium heckled Vinicius. In that game last season, Vinicius picked up a direct red card, the first instance of his career. At the time, Valencia players pestered Vinicius, with the crowd egging on the winger. Unfortunately, any form of banter developed into disgusting remarks that targeted Vinicius’s skin color.

Despite LaLiga saying it would work to find the culprits and establish clear punishments, nothing came. Instead, racism persisted. In the most recent campaign, Vinicius unfortunately became the face of battling racism in LaLiga. At times, he even threatened to retire because the issue was so bad in Spain. Now, though, complaints from LaLiga have led to tangible results.

On Monday, Spanish courts handed three Valencia supporters a prison sentence of eight months with additional bans for soccer stadiums in Spain. Valencia and the Mestalla Stadium fully complied with the investigation that found the three supporters guilty.

“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,” said LaLiga President Javier Tebas.

Precedent set for racism in LaLiga

The three convictions against fans who were at the Mestalla that day send a message to the rest of Spain. Any fans performing some sort of racist act at a game can now face the wrath of the law. Prison sentences are a way to curb racism in Spain, a place where it has maintained itself as an issue over the last decade.

Tebas also commented on the waiting period for this sentencing to come down. Seeing as the racist incident was over a year ago, there were serious concerns regarding how impactful the fight against racism has been.

“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 evolve to give LaLiga sanctioning powers that can speed up the fight against racism,” he added.

LaLiga still faces an uphill battle to end racism. There are outstanding issues that need to be resolved. For example, a case connects racism to Iñaki Williams that dates back to 2020. Regardless, this is a step in the right direction. LaLiga now has a base to build off to continue working to end racism in Spain.