Rio de Janeiro Passes Anti-Racism Law Named After Brazilian Soccer Star

Brazilian soccer fans attend a protest against the racist abuse of soccer star Vini Jr.

Silvia Izquierdo/AP

The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro passed a law aimed at combatting incidents of racism at sports events, according to ESPN.

The “Vinicius Junior Law” — named after the Brazilian soccer star who’s been the target of nearly a dozen such incidents in Spain’s La Liga — will now allow the “interruption or even termination of a sports event in which a racist act takes place.”

In May, seven people were arrested in Spain for two separate racist acts toward the Real Madrid forward. One group was responsible for hanging an effigy of Vini near the club’s practice facility, and another group was involved in racist chants during the club’s match against Valencia. These latest incidents have sparked outrage within the soccer community, with many urging La Liga to take action against those responsible. Others have even claimed that racism has existed in Spanish soccer for decades.

Under Spanish law, La Liga cannot punish teams and fans for racist abuse and can only report and refer them to law enforcement. Now, Brazilian law has taken the first steps to prevent similar setbacks within its own borders.

“We have to eradicate this cancer that is racism once and for all, especially in sports,” said Josemar, the Rio state representative that proposed the legislation. “This law aims to combat racism and create an egalitarian society.”

Punishment may soon come for the seven men arrested in Spain. The country’s anti-violence commission proposed fines of approximately $64,000 and two-year stadium bans for the four that hung the effigy; and $5,000 fines and one-year bans for the fans that did the chanting.

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