Brazilian club banned from tournament after racism
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s sports tribunal banned Gremio from this year’s Brazilian Cup on Wednesday after its fans racially insulted an opposition player in a match last week.
The tribunal also fined the traditional club more than $20,000 and said fans identified as responsible for the insults will be banned from attending matches for two years. The referee was suspended 90 days for failing to immediately report the racial abuse in the match report.
The unprecedented ruling against a top Brazilian team comes less than a week after a small group of fans called Santos goalkeeper Aranha a “monkey” in a Brazilian Cup match at the Arena Gremio. Some also imitated monkey noises toward the player.
In a session that lasted nearly four hours, the tribunal unanimously voted 5-0 for Gremio’s exclusion. The club said it will appeal.
The return match in the tournament’s round of 16 remains suspended until a final ruling is made. Santos won the first leg 2-0 in Porto Alegre.
A four-time Brazilian Cup winner, Gremio is currently led by former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Cruzeiro is the only other club to have as many titles as Gremio in the Brazilian Cup, the nation’s second-most important competition behind the Brazilian league.
“Gremio respects the decision but doesn’t agree with it technically,” club president Fabio Koff said. “I’m not saying there was injustice, but the interpretation of the rule was too harsh. The club has done all it can to cooperate.”
Television cameras showed one young woman clearly yelling “monkey” from the stands behind Aranha’s goal in the Aug. 28 match. She was immediately identified though social media networks and reportedly was suspended from her job and had to leave the city with her family because of the case’s repercussion.
Racism is a crime in Brazil and local police have already started interrogating some of the fans.
Gremio’s lawyers said Wednesday that only a small group of supporters were involved and it wasn’t fair to punish the club and the rest of the fans.
The club this week said it identified about five fans apparently responsible for the insults against Aranha, and banned one of its fan groups from its stadium and prohibited it from using any of the team logos. It also started an anti-racism campaign toward its fans, showing videos and banners before the team’s matches.
“If this decision helps end discrimination in Brazil, then Gremio will be happy,” Koff said.
Gremio had already been fined about $35,000 earlier this year for fans’ racist insults against another player at the Arena Gremio.
Last week’s incident was just the latest case of racism to stain Brazilian football this year.
In April, the sports tribunal stripped points from Brazilian club Esportivo after its fans racially abused a referee during a match. The points-deduction led to its relegation in a regional championship in southern Brazil.
That same month, a player for club Sao Bernardo filed a police report against Parana fans who allegedly taunted him with racist insults in a Brazilian Cup match. In March, a sports tribunal fined Brazilian club Mogi Mirim $21,000 because its fans racially abused former Brazil midfielder Arouca in a game against Santos in the Sao Paulo state championship.
The punishment to Mogi Mirim was announced on the same day that South American football’s governing body fined Peruvian club Real Garcilaso $12,000 for fan abuse against Cruzeiro midfielder Tinga in a Copa Libertadores match.
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