RIO DE JANEIRO: The Brazilian Football Confederation said Friday it had sent a letter to FIFA calling for a crackdown on racism in the sport, after a series of incidents targeting players including Brazil star Vinicius Junior. The CBF said it had also addressed the letter to European football’s governing body, UEFA, and the South American confederation, CONMEBOL, urging stronger action to fight racism and raise awareness about a problem that has long dogged the sport. The letter comes after an effigy of Vinicius Junior, who plays for Real Madrid, was found hung by the neck from a bridge near the Spanish club’s training center ahead of their derby against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid last week. The player — who scored a goal in his team’s 3-1 win that day — was also the victim of racist slurs at a league match between the two clubs in September. And Spain’s High Council for Sport said Monday that Real Valladolid fans who racially insulted Vinicius Junior during a match in December would be prosecuted for hate speech. “It’s essential to wage an absolutely firm fight against racism. Cases like the recent ones involving Vinicius Junior and so many other athletes are unacceptable,” CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues said Thursday at the opening of a FIFA seminar in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s reached a point that goes beyond attacking the victims’ dignity to threaten their safety.” Rodrigues, 68, is the first black CBF president. He has made fighting racism a priority since taking the post in March 2022. On Saturday, he met with Brazilian Justice Minister Flavio Dino to discuss the incident involving Vinicius Junior and fighting racism in football more generally, the CBF said. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office last month, has also made fighting racism a priority. The veteran leftist recently signed a bill into law increasing sentences for racial discrimination.