Soccer: Vitoria launch investigation into Marega racist abuse

FILE PHOTO: Europa League - Group G - FC Porto v Feyenoord

(Reuters) - Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes have launched their own investigation and released an anti-racism video after Porto striker Moussa Marega was subjected to racist insults at their stadium during a league game at the weekend.

Vitoria said in a statement vitoriasc.pt/pt/news/index/view/comunicado-17-de-fevereiro-2020 that racism was a "problem of national dimension" and one from which government entities "cannot distance themselves with simplistic declarations of selective rejection and censorship."

Political and sporting authorities including the league's organising body Liga Portugal had earlier condemned the incident, while the police began an investigation on Monday.

Mali forward Marega was abused by Vitoria fans throughout the match that Porto won 2-1, and he scored a 60th-minute winner that he celebrated by pointing at his skin.

He later posted a message on Instagram calling fans who targeted him "idiots" and also criticised referee Luis Godinho.

Vitoria's president Miguel Pinto Lisboa said after the match that he "did not notice any racist insults."

In the anti-racism video, club ambassador and former goalkeeper Neno and several first team players talk about Vitoria's colours and values.

"Perhaps not many people know why Vitoria's colours are black and white," Neno says. "Vitoria wears those colours as a reference to equality and inclusion of all, without race discrimination."

Vitoria said they were working with police to identify those behind the abuse.

Racist behaviour is punishable by up to five years in jail in Portugal and can also attract fines of up to 10,000 euros ($10,800).

"Racism is an act of betrayal of the club's foundation," Vitoria said.

"Vitoria does not accept that the good name and image of the club and its supporters to be put into question due to a criminal act which, instead of representing their way of being, feeling and acting, affronts them."

The club criticised Liga Portugal for allegedly ignoring Vitoria's condemnation of the Marega incident while simultaneously promoting condemnation from other clubs on the organising body's social media channels.

($1 = 0.9246 euros)


(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)