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Brazil midfielder Elias feels 'pity' after racist abuse

Xinhua, April 3, 2015 Adjust font size:

Corinthians midfielder Elias said Thursday he felt "pity" after being the victim of South American football's latest racism controversy.

The Brazil international was allegedly called a monkey by Cristian Gonzales, an 18-year-old centre-back for Uruguayan club Danubio, during a Copa Libertadores match in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, which Corinthians won 4-0.

Television footage showed a visibly affected Elias being restrained by teammates before he denounced the incident to referee Diego Haro, who took no action against Gonzales.

Elias, who played in Brazil's friendly victories over France and Chile in the past week, released an official statement on Thursday condemning the behavior.

"Before a free-kick was taken I was called a monkey by Gonzalez," Elias said. "After we scored and during the celebration he repeated the insult, this time with gestures imitating a monkey.

"It's lamentable that episodes such as this still happen. It disgusts me even more that it happened in my country, in my home. He [Gonzalez] is still very young and I hope that in time, when he matures, he will realize that racism is repugnant. Now that my head has cleared, I don't feel anger, only pity."

The 29-year-old's teammates Cassio and Emerson called for Gonzalez to be given a lengthy ban.

"I hope action is taken and that the player is punished," Cassio was quoted as saying by the Globo newspaper. "If not, this type of thing will continue. Punishments need to be heavier."

Emerson added: "The federation [Conmebol] needs to punish the player and the club. It [racism] has gone too far. There are no more arguments to defend it."

South American football's governing body Conmebol was yet to comment on the incident on Thursday.

Danubio president Oscar Curutchet defended Gonzales, despite admitting the defender had called Elias a monkey.

"It came at a time when tension was high," Curutchet said. "It's a common expression in Uruguayan football. His intention wasn't to cause any major insult. There were worse insults made by players from both teams during the match."

Curutchet said Conmebol had not contacted the club about the incident.

"Until now we haven't heard anything. We will follow the matter closely. They are things that happen in a match. The players told us that the match was difficult and there was a lot of provocation," Curutchet said.

Thursday's episode is the latest in a catalog of racism cases in South American football.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last August said racism in the sport had become "a plague" and called on joint action from authorities to address the issue. Endi