Gremio have been banned from Brazil's premier cup competition—the Copa do Brasil—after their fans racially abused an opposition player.
In the latter stages of their match against Santos last week—the first of a two-leg tie which they were losing 2-0—Gremio fans made racist gestures and shouted abuse at opposition goalkeeper Aranha, as noted by 101 Great Goals:
101 Great Goals @102greatgoals
Terrible! Gremio fans produce racist monkey gestures at Santos keeper Aranha [Video] http://t.co/PL3twpsK7X http://t.co/YMSIFCJk9T8/29/2014, 3:00:27 PM
As a result, Gremio—managed by former Brazil national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari—have been banned from playing in the second leg of the tie by a five-member disciplinary commission of the Superior Court of Sporting Justice, thus ruling them out of the competition.
They have also been handed a 50,000 reais ($22,300, £13,500) fine in a decision which the commission head, Fabricio Dazzi, hopes will serve as a deterrent in the future, per BBC News:
This is a landmark ruling. I don't think racial abuse incidents like that will happen again. The fans will think twice, knowing that their club can be punished for their acts.
Gremio were very cooperative in the investigation into the incident, helping to identify the fans involved, per Brazilian football journalist Fernando Duarte:
Fernando Duarte @Fernando_Duarte
The racism controversy in Brazil gets new twist with the news that Gremio is helping police to identify fans abused Santos goalie last week9/1/2014, 11:59:04 AM
However, club president Fabio Koff is unhappy with the ruling—which also sees the fans involved at the Arena do Gremio banned from attending football matches in Brazil for 720 days—per the BBC report:
"I believe the decision was too harsh. Gremio has done everything it could to identify the guilty fans," Koff stated.
As football journalist Oliver Farry alludes to, the decision is a welcome tough response to racism in the footballing world:
Oliver Farry @ofarry
Brazil shows the way on racism: Grêmio kicked out of Brazilian Cup for racist chant by a supporter: http://t.co/1bfnZPamlA [pt]9/3/2014, 11:31:31 PM
Too often, clubs have merely been dished out partial stadium closures and inconsequential fines as sanctions for the racist actions of their fans, per the Guardian.
The Brazilian authorities are clearly aware that the only likely way to prevent repeat offences in the future by a club's fans is to exclude the team in question from competition.
Interestingly, the officials from the match have also been punished for failing to report the issue and ignoring Aranha as he tried to draw attention to the fans' actions.
The decision will hopefully pave the way for similar tough sanctions to be meted out by other footballing authorities such as UEFA and FIFA in an attempt to tackle racism in the game.
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