Four men detained in Spain earlier this week over a suspected hate crime in the hanging of a black effigy of Brazilian soccer star Vinicius Jr from a bridge have been released on bail, a Madrid court said on Thursday.
The men, who are also being investigated for an offence against Vinicius’ moral integrity, have been banned from approaching and communicating with the Real Madrid winger pending further investigation, a court statement said.
The inquiry was opened after an inflatable black effigy dressed in the No 20 jersey of Vinicius Jr was hung from a bridge in front of Real Madrid’s training grounds before a match against Atletico Madrid in January.
Alongside it was a large red and white banner – the colours of Atletico – that read “Madrid hates Real”.
The four suspects were also banned from approaching the Real Madrid training grounds and to be closer than one km from the Club’s two stadiums and any LaLiga stadium during soccer matches.
Three of the arrested men were members of “a radical group of fans of a Madrid club” who were previously flagged during matches as “high risk”, according to police.
Vinicius Jr has been in the spotlight since Sunday when racist chants were hurled at him at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium.
His complaints about Spain and LaLiga not doing enough to fight racism have sparked a worldwide wave of support and a national debate in Spain.
Three other men who were detained on Tuesday in Valencia for alleged racist conduct aimed at Vinicius during Sunday’s match were released later that day after pledging to appear before the authorities when summoned.
Police were still making inquiries related to Sunday’s incident and have not ruled out further arrests. It could still take some time before agents hand over their findings to an investigating magistrate.