BELGRADE, Serbia, Feb 20 – Partizan Belgrade on Monday “strongly condemned” racist abuse directed at their Brazilian star Everton Luiz, declaring the midfielder had “won the hearts of fans”.
The 28-year-old player was reduced to tears at the monkey chants he received from fans of local rivals Rad, local media reported.
The match was stopped late on after some Rad fans brandished a banner insulting Luiz, who won the Serbian Cup last year with Partizan.
“We strongly condemn perpetrators of this insane act,” the club said in a statement on its website.
“Partizan feels obliged to apologise to all those insulted and hurt by racist chanting” during the match, it added.
“We fully support one of the best players of our club, Everton, who has won the hearts of fans during his stay in Serbia in the last year.”
Late on Monday the manager of Serbia’s football league Vladimir Bulatovic suspended the Rad stadium “until the final decision of disciplinary organs of Serbia’s Football Association (FSS) due to indecent behaviour of FC Rad fans and insults to the player on a racial basis.”
“At the same time a disciplinary complaint was submitted to the FSS disciplinary committee against Rad and all individuals involved in this incident,” Bulatovic said.
At the final whistle, TV coverage showed Luiz making a one-fingered gesture in the direction of the Rad fans, who made their disapproval clear, prompting police to move in and prevent tensions spilling over as Luiz headed for the dressing room.
“I couldn’t hold back the tears as I had to face racist insults from the terraces for 90 minutes,” Luiz said.
“I was even more shocked by the attitude of opposing players who, instead of calming things down, backed this behaviour.”
Partizan won the game 1-0 to stay second in the table, six points behind Red Star Belgrade.
Serbian football has been marred by racist incidents in recent years, including one that saw fans chanting abuse at England’s black players at an under-21 international match five years ago.