SAO PAULO (AP) — A sports tribunal has stripped points from a Brazilian club because its fans racially abused a referee during a match, causing its relegation in a regional championship in southern Brazil.
Club Esportivo lost nine points in the tribunal's ruling late Thursday, dropping the club to the second division of the Rio Grande do Sul state championship. Esportivo will also have to play six matches away from its stadium and pay a $14,000 fine.
The decision came after some of its supporters allegedly called the referee a "monkey" and told him to "return to the jungle" in a March 5 match. The fans also vandalized the referee's car and left bananas on top of it.
Esportivo's lawyers said the club will appeal.
The minnow club had been banned from five home matches in the first trial, but prosecutors appealed saying that punishment was too lenient.
"This should help put an end to these cowardly acts," referee Marcio Chagas da Silva told Brazilian media. "It's a response to society, which was anxiously waiting for justice."
There have been several recent cases of racism in Brazilian football as the country gets ready to host the World Cup in two months.
The Brazilian government has been actively condemning the incidents, and President Dilma Rousseff said she is working with FIFA and the United Nations to use the World Cup to attract attention to the cause. She has been saying she wants the tournament to be viewed as the "World Cup for Peace" and the "World Cup Against Racism."