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Soccer-Mogi Mirim's stadium closed after Arouca abuse

Reuters

(Recasts after stadium closure)

By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Mogi Mirim's stadium was closed by footballing authorities in Sao Paulo on Friday pending an investigation after racist abuse was shouted at former Brazil international and Santos player Arouca.

A spectator abused Arouca with monkey calls and insults following his starring performance in Santos's 5-2 win over Mogi Mirim in a Paulista state championship match on Thursday.

"The stadium must remain closed until the final decision of the disciplinary committee looks into the facts," the Paulista Football Federation said in a statement.

"This action is necessary given that the actions of the Mogi Mirim crowd indelibly stain sporting discipline as well as the basic principles of civility."

A fan abused the 27-year old Arouca as he left the pitch and the comments were caught on reporters' microphones. Both the player and his manager expressed their disgust in post-match interviews and called on authorities to take action.

"As I left the pitch on Thursday night against Mogi Mirim I was the target of racist insults by a fan of the opposing team," the player said in a statement, adding that he did not personally hear the abuse.

"It's lamentable and unacceptable that there is still room for this kind of thing today...It killed the happiness I felt over our team's good performance in which I scored a nice goal, which should be what the sport is all about," he added.

"I sincerely hope cases like this will be severely punished because until that happens nothing is going to change. Impunity and the connivance of authorities with the people who do this kind of thing are every bit as serious as the acts themselves."

The Paulista Football Federation did not say when the investigation would be completed. Mogi's next home game is against Paulista on March 18.

The incident highlighted lingering racism in Brazilian football and came in the same week that a referee in the south of the country had bananas thrown on his car after a game.

Fans told referee Marcio Chagas da Silva "your place is in the jungle" and "to get back to the circus" during the Esportivo-Veranopolis match in the state championship of Rio Grande do Sul, one of Brazil's most developed states.

The incidents were also uncomfortable for World Cup hosts Brazil given the nation's reaction to racism by Peruvian fans last month.

Cruzeiro midfielder Tinga was abused by Real Garcilaso fans during a Copa Libertadores match in Peru, prompting Brazil's president to express solidarity with the player in tweets.

Racism is a crime in Brazil but few people are charged and even fewer are jailed.

Around six percent of all Brazilians class themselves as "black" but a majority of the country's 200 million people consider themselves "dark skinned." (Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca, editing by Alan Baldwin and Toby Davis)

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