SAO PAULO (AP) — Fans yelled racist insults at a Brazilian football player being interviewed by reporters after a match, the latest case of racism to hit the country that will host the World Cup in a few months.
Santos midfielder Arouca, who played for Brazil's national team last year, was on the field talking to reporters after his team's 5-2 win in the Sao Paulo state championship on Thursday when some fans in the stands reportedly called him "monkey."
The midfielder released a statement Friday, saying he heard one fan telling him to go and look for an African team to play for.
"It's unacceptable that things like this are still happening these days. It shows that the human being still has a lot to evolve and grow," Arouca said. "The greatest pages in the history of our national team were written by players such as Leonidas, Romario and the king, Pele, who are also black. Impunity for these people is just as grave as the acts themselves, so promises alone won't solve this lack of education and humanity."
The Sao Paulo state federation said the stadium in the interior city of Mogi Mirim was being closed until the case was fully investigated. The state's sports tribunal will look into the incident.
The insults came a day after a referee said he was targeted by racist fans before and after a match, and less than a month after another Brazilian player was insulted in a Copa Libertadores game in Peru.
"It's better to block that out, better not to listen to these people, if you can actually call them people," said the 27-year-old Arouca, who scored one of Santos' goals. "It's hard to talk about what is happening these days. It's tough, but we know it happens, not only in football. I just hope someone can do something serious about it because it's lamentable."
While still talking to reporters, Arouca kept looking at the stands to try to find the fans who yelled at him. Reporters later said the insults came from a group of three or four Mogi Mirim fans.
Brazil has been making headlines for the wrong reasons as it tries to get ready for the World Cup. In addition to problems finishing stadiums and infrastructure work, the country has also been dealing with several cases of fan violence and court disputes that threaten to delay this year's Brazilian league because of a controversial sports tribunal decision that altered the results of last year's tournament.