Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior holds his mouth during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villareal and Real Madrid at Estadio De La Ceramica in Villareal, eastern Spain, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Vinicius Junior: Real Madrid striker effigy target displayed ahead of Atletico Madrid game

Atletico Madrid have condemned the “repugnant” behavior of those responsible for hanging an effigy of Real Madrid striker Vinicius Junior at a bridge ahead of Thursday’s Madrid derby.

A banner reading ‘Madrid hates Real Madrid’ was displayed next to the likeness of Vinicius, who was racially abused during Real’s 2-1 win at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium in September.

Real host their city rivals at the Bernabeu in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday, with Vinicius set to feature in their squad.

Ahead of the match, Atletico issued a statement urging authorities to bring those responsible for the effigy to justice and calling for respect from their rivals.

“The rivalry between the two clubs is the biggest, but so is the respect,” read Atletico’s statement. “No individual, whatever his intentions or colors, can tarnish the coexistence between different supporters. It is everyone’s responsibility to avoid this.

“In view of the image that appeared today in various media in which a message of hatred has been launched, Atletico Madrid communicates that such acts are absolutely repugnant and unacceptable and bring shame to society. Our condemnation of any act that undermines the dignity of persons or institutions is categorical and unreserved.

“We do not know the perpetrator(s) of this despicable act, but their anonymity does not exonerate their responsibility. We hope that the authorities will succeed in clarifying what happened and that justice will help banish this type of behavior. “

Vinicius Jr celebrates after scoring Real Madrid's fourth goal against Celtic
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Vinicius has lost just one of nine games against Atletico, scoring three times

Real Madrid echoed Atletico’s description of the display as ‘disgusting’, saying: “Real Madrid would like to thank you for the support and expressions of affection received after the regrettable and disgusting act. of racism, xenophobia and hatred against our player Vinicius.

“We would like to express our strongest condemnation of these acts, which are an attack on the fundamental rights and dignity of people, and which have nothing to do with the values ‚Äč‚Äčthat football and sport represent.

“Attacks such as those suffered by our player, or those suffered by any sportsman, have no place in a society like ours.

“Real Madrid hopes that those who took part in such a despicable act will be held responsible.”

LaLiga also called for action, saying in a statement: “LaLiga strongly condemns acts of hatred and intimidation against Vinicius Jr. Intolerance and violence have no place in our sport.

“La Liga, as in the past, will push for an investigation into the matter by the relevant state security forces and bodies, seeking convictions for those responsible and asking for the harshest penalties. .

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