RACISM

Dutch soccer fans told to pay €1,500 to Roma women they humiliated in Madrid

The accused apologized via video link for throwing coins at beggars in Plaza Mayor ahead of a Champions League match in 2016

Scenes from March 15, 2016 captured on video by bystanders.

Four men charged with hate crimes over an incident that took place in Madrid in 2016 will pay €1,500 in damages to each of the women they humiliated as they partied ahead of a Champions League soccer match in the Spanish capital.

All four were fans of the Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, and had traveled to Madrid to watch their team play against Atlético de Madrid on March 15, 2016. On Wednesday, a Madrid court tried them for humiliating four Roma women who were begging in Plaza Mayor.

A video made by two students at the UAM-EL PAÍS journalism school showed the women picking up coins that had been thrown onto the ground by the Eindhoven fans, and being goaded into doing push-ups in exchange for money.

The accused wrote in a letter that on the day of the incident, they were “feeling good and full of confidence in the good outcome of the match”

On Wednesday, the accused accepted a three-month prison term and to pay €1,500 to each of their victims. The public prosecution was asking for a one-year prison term and €600 in damages.

But neither the accused nor the victims showed up in court. Instead, the former made statements via video link and apologized for their behavior, saying that they had had too many drinks that day. As for the victims, they are now living in Romania, according to Carmen Santiago, president of Kamira, the national federation of Roma women. Santiago said that the association will ensure the four women get their money.

The defendants also sent a letter to Kamira, explaining that the atmosphere in Plaza Mayor on that day “was jubilant and accompanied by lots of beer.” As for themselves, they were “feeling good and full of confidence in the good outcome of the match.”

March 15, 2016

The incident took place at midday, at a time when the popular square was filled with people.

The soccer fans were sitting at an outdoor table having beers when a group of panhandlers showed up. Every time they threw a coin on the ground and a woman picked it up, the visitors yelled “Olé” amid great laughter.

Miguel Ángel Rendón, a high school teacher from Cádiz, also witnessed the scene with his students. “They were treating them like animals, and the women were shoving and almost hitting one another as they competed for the coins while the Dutchmen laughed,” he said. “They were giving them five-cent coins. And the worst of the worst was when they threw pieces of bread on the ground.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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