SAO PAULO - A sports tribunal has fined Brazilian club Mogi Mirim $21,000 because its fans racially abused an opposing player in a Sao Paulo state championship match this month.
The tribunal issued the fine after fans allegedly called Santos midfielder Arouca a "monkey" while he was being interviewed after a March 6 match. Fans also reportedly told the former Brazil midfielder to go and look for an African team to play for.
Mogi Mirim, whose president is former Brazil star Rivaldo, said it will appeal because it did everything possible to help authorities solve the case.
Nobody was arrested, but the team's stadium will remain closed pending the appeal.
The ruling late Monday came the same day South American football's governing body fined Peruvian club Real Garcilaso $12,000 after its fans racially abused Brazilian Cruzeiro midfielder Tinga in a Copa Libertadores match earlier this year.
CONMEBOL also warned that the club could face stiffer penalties if similar incidents occur, including forcing it to play in an empty home stadium.
Tinga criticized the fine for the Peruvian club.
"If they opted for the financial option, it's because they agreed something was wrong," the 36-year-old Tinga told Brazilian media. "But they need to rethink these punishments, they need to be more creative and make it matter, maybe involving the club in a social cause related to what happened, or making it wear a jersey with words against violence."
Tinga's Cruzeiro teammate Dede called the punishment "ridiculous."
"They didn't feel what Tinga and the rest of the team felt," he said. "Discrimination is the worst thing a human being can do to someone else."
Several incidents of racism in Brazilian football have been making headlines recently as the country gets ready to host the World Cup.
Two weeks ago, another sports tribunal ordered Esportivo in southern Brazil to play five matches away from its stadium because its fans racially abused a referee during a match.
The tribunal also fined the club about $13,000 after some of its supporters allegedly called the referee a "monkey" and told him to "return to the jungle" in a match in the Rio Grande do Sul state championship on March 5. The fans also vandalized the referee's car and left bananas on top of it.
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."
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