New racism row flares in Brazilian football

Chris Wright
AFP
File picture shows Aranha (2L), goalkeeper with Brazilian club Santos FC, being welcomed by fans at Central Japan International Airport in Tokoname, Aichi prefecture on December 8, 2011 before the FIFA Club World Cup
File picture shows Aranha (2L), goalkeeper with Brazilian club Santos FC, being welcomed by fans at Central Japan International Airport in Tokoname, Aichi prefecture on December 8, 2011 before the FIFA Club World Cup (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro Nogi)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Brazilian top flight outfit Gremio say they are committed to weeding out racist behavior by fans after identifying a group who heaped abuse on Santos goalkeeper Aranha in a midweek Cup game.

Gremio could face expulsion from the Brazilian Cup after the fans stood just behind his goal in the southern city of Porto Alegre chanted insults and made monkey noises.

One young female supporter was clearly seen yelling "macaco" (monkey) at the shot-stopper during his side's midweek 2-0 win.

Brazilian television reported Saturday that the woman, Patricia Moreira, had been suspended from her work after she was identified via social media.

Articles relating to discrimination in Brazil's sports justice code could see Gremio, now coached by former Brazil handler Luiz Felipe Scolari, thrown out of the tournament, docked league points and fined.

Brazil's sports tribunal is now assessing the case after Aranha filed a complaint to police. The second leg of the Cup-tie has been postponed pending the outcome in the latest of a series of racist cases to mar the Brazilian game in recent months.

Gremio said Friday they had identified five fans but Globo reported Saturday as many as 20 were involved, based on an early assessment of video footage from behind the Santos goal.

Referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio did not initially mention the incident in his match report. He said media coverage afterwards alerted him to what had happened and that he had not heard the abuse during the match -- though a furious Aranha confronted some of those chanting abuse during the encounter.

Gremio chairman Fabio Koff insisted the club would do "all we can to help the police establish who was responsible for these acts," promised "rigorous punishment."

A club video released after the game also condemned the incident.

It was the second time this year Gremio have been in hot water for similar reasons, the first bringing a fine in the region of $35,000.

This time, they face a fine of up to 200,000 reais ($80,000) and expulsion from the Cup.

Gremio lawyer Gabriel Vieira said Brazil's sports justice tribunal had formally notified the club it is under investigation, as is Sampaio for not initially including the incident in his match report.

He and his assistents face suspensions ranging from 90 to 360 days.

The Brazilian government promised before the World Cup to crack down on racism and football violence after a spate of cases marring the game in recent months.

Aranha told reporters: "This has been going on for some time. There are laws and I hope they are enforced."

In one earlier case this year, black referee Chagas da Silva had bananas thrown at his car and was told to "go back to the jungle."

In April, Brazil starlet Neymar publicly waded into the debate by posting a picture of himself to social media eating a banana after Barcelona teammate and compatriot Daniel Alves picked one up which had been thrown on the pitch during a game in Spain.

Neymar then launched a campaign using the hashtag somos todos macacos (we are all monkeys).