Gremio promises to punish fans for racism toward Santos keeper Aranha

Santos goalkeeper Aranha was the victim of racist abuse from Gremio fans.

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SAO PAULO — Brazilian club Gremio has promised to help identify and punish the fans who taunted a player in the latest case of racism to taint the national game.

The club said Friday it will do all it can to find the fans responsible for monkey taunts directed at Santos goalkeeper Aranha in Thursday’s Brazilian Cup match in Porto Alegre.

Aranha complained after the slurs were chanted behind his goal near the end of Santos’ 2-0 win at Arena Gremio.

Gremio said it will analyze television images and security camera images to try to identify the fans. One young woman can be clearly seen yelling ”monkey” from the stands. Local media said she was identified though social media networks and reportedly was suspended from her job because of the case’s repercussion.

”If those responsible are identified as club members, they will be immediately suspended and prohibited from entering the stadium,” Gremio said in a statement. ”Everything we find will be turned over to the police so they can take the necessary actions.”

The club said the taunts were ”isolated acts by individuals” and ”don’t represent the grandiosity and the respect of the Gremio fans.”

Aranha was expected to file a police report on Friday to formalize his complaint. He said fans also made monkey noises toward him.

The match was briefly interrupted as the goalkeeper talked to the referee, making monkey gestures and pointing to the fans.

The incident was included by the referee in the match report and Gremio is expected to face a suspension. The team was fined about $35,000 earlier this year for fans’ racist insults against another player at the Arena Gremio.

”Unfortunately we live in a racist country,” said Gremio midfielder Ze Roberto, who played for Brazil at the 2006 World Cup. ”If there are images showing who’s responsible for this, then there needs to be a punishment.”

Santos striker Robinho, who has played in Spain, England and Italy, said that such incidents have to be taken seriously by local authorities.

”In Europe we have severe punishment for cases like this. Maybe it’s what needs to start happening here,” he said. ”They need to identify the fans and really punish them.”

Before the World Cup, Brazil defender Dani Alves was targeted by racist fans while playing for Barcelona in Spain, igniting a social media campaign against racism led by Brazil teammate Neymar.

In April, a Brazilian sports tribunal stripped points from minnow 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.

The decision came after fans allegedly told the referee to ”return to the jungle” and left bananas on top of his car.

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 Santos match 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.

”If there is no proper punishment, these acts will just keep happening,” Santos coach Oswaldo Oliveira said.