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Vinicius Jr: Arrests after effigy of Real Madrid star hung from bridge

Seven people have been arrested on suspicion of hate crimes aimed at Real Madrid footballer Vinicius Jr.

Spanish police said three people had been detained in Valencia in connection with racial slurs hurled at the Brazilian forward at the city's Mestalla stadium during a La Liga game on Sunday.

Meanwhile in Madrid, a further four people have been arrested on suspicion of hanging an effigy of the star off a bridge.

A hate crime investigation was opened after the model figure - which was wearing the star's number 20 shirt - was dangled from a bridge in front of Real Madrid's training ground in January.

It was hung alongside a 16-metre red and white banner that read "Madrid hates Real".

Real Madrid lodged a hate crime complaint with Spanish prosecutors after the player was targeted with racist abuse during their 1-0 defeat away at Valencia on Sunday.

Valencia said police have identified a fan who made racist gestures at Vinicius Jr and that person faces a lifetime stadium ban from the Mestalla ground.

The lights on Brazil's iconic Christ the Redeemer statue were turned off for an hour on Monday night in solidarity with Vinicius Jr.

The Archdiocesan Sanctuary, which manages the monument, carried out the act in cooperation with the Brazilian FA and the Observatory of Racial Discrimination in Football.

Madrid's match against Valencia was paused on Sunday night after the half-time break as the Brazilian pointed out supporters who were taunting him to the referee.

Vinicius, who has been racially abused from the stands several times this season, was enraged, prompting teammates and opposition players to try to calm him down.

He tweeted after the game: "It wasn't the first time, nor the second, nor the third. Racism is normal in La Liga. In football they think it's normal, the federation does too - and the opponent encourages it.

"I'm so sad. The championship that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi today belongs to racism.

"A beautiful nation, which welcomed me and which I love, but which agreed to export the image of a racist country to the world.

"I'm sorry for the Spaniards who don't agree but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists. And unfortunately, for something that happens each week, I have no defence. I let it happen.

"But I am strong and I will go to the end against racists. Even if it is far from here."

Read more:
Why footballers facing racism will fear being abused, doubted and denounced in Spain
Kylian Mbappe leads messages of support for Vinicius Jr

La Liga president Javier Tebas responded to Vinicius's post on Sunday by accusing the forward of "criticising and insulting" the league.

In another tweet on Monday, Tebas said: "Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist. It is very unfair to say this."

In a strongly-worded statement, the 22-year-old's club said: "Real Madrid CF shows its strongest revulsion and condemns the events that took place yesterday against our player Vinicius Jr.

"These facts constitute a direct attack on the coexistence model of our social and democratic state of law.

"Real Madrid considers that such attacks also constitute a hate crime, for which reason it has filed the corresponding complaint with the state attorney general's office."