SAO PAULO (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Thursday praised a sports tribunal decision to exclude a club from the Brazilian Cup after its fans racially taunted an opposition player.
Blatter's comments came as Brazilian authorities continued to interrogate some of the fans accused of being involved in the latest case of racism marring local football this year.
"I've said football MUST be stronger in tackling racism," Blatter said on Twitter. "Brazil has sent the right message, banning a team from the Cup due to 'fans' abuse."
Wednesday's unprecedented ruling against a top Brazilian team came less than a week after a small group of Gremio fans called Santos goalkeeper Aranha a "monkey" and were caught on camera making monkey noises toward the player at the Arena Gremio in the southern city of Porto Alegre.
FIFA has been constantly promoting anti-racism campaigns and condemning acts of discrimination in football across the world, though it has not always been directly involved in handing out punishment to those involved in racial abuse.
After a series of incidents of racism in Brazil earlier this year, Blatter and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the World Cup in Brazil would take a stand against discrimination, though Blatter later acknowledged he was "not at all happy with the way we fought against racism" during the tournament.
Brazil's sports tribunal voted unanimous to exclude Gremio from the Brazilian Cup, the nation's second-most important competition behind the Brazilian league. The tribunal also fined the team coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari more than $20,000 and said fans identified as responsible for the insults will be banned from attending matches for two years.
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