Brazil’s main sports tribunal backed down in a landmark case of racism in football on Thursday, qualifying the punishment handed out to a second division team, who had been docked points for racist remarks made by one of their senior officials.
The court ruled it was returning the three points to Brusque and was instead ordering them to play one of their future home games at a ground that was not their own.
It maintained a fine and ban levied against Julio Antonio Petermann, the head of Brusque’s Deliberative Council.
Petermann had admitted to telling Celsinho, a black player with rival team Londrina, to “go and cut your beehive of a hairdo” during their August 28 match in Brazil’s Serie B.
However, Brusque appealed the decision and won with a majority ruling.
“I don’t understand this as a situation for loss of points,” Jose Perdiz de Jesus, the court’s interim president, said.
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There were no fans present at the game, which was drawn 0-0, because of COVID-19 restrictions in Brazil. However, Celsinho reported the incident, and it was included in the referee’s report.
Petermann acknowledged the words were his and apologised in a submission to the court in September.
The court “had a great chance to change everything,” Celsinho said in comments reported on the globoesporte website.
“To do something positive. To be seen by everyone. And they went and shot themselves in the foot. Instead of evolving, they went backwards. It’s very shameful. What a great disappointment.”
Cases of racism have shaken football in recent years and gained considerable attention. But punishing clubs by docking points or forfeiting their games is still a rarity.
The decision could be crucial in both teams fight against relegation to Brazil’s third tier.
Londrina currently sits 17th in the 20-team Serie B, while Brusque, who had been 15th, equal with them on points, now rise into 14th, three points ahead.