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Club promises to punish fans who taunted player in latest case of racism in Brazilian football

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SAO PAULO - Brazilian club Gremio has promised to help identify and punish those of its fans who taunted a player in the latest case of racism to taint the national game.

The club said Friday it will analyze footage from television and security cameras in finding the fans responsible for monkey taunts directed at Santos goalkeeper Aranha in Thursday's Brazilian Cup match in Porto Alegre.

Aranha has filed a police report to formalize his initial complaints about the slurs which were chanted by supporters behind his goal near the end of Santos' 2-0 win at Arena Gremio.

Next week's return match has been suspended until a sports tribunal can analyze the case. Gremio could be excluded from the competition depending on the tribunal's decision.

Footage shows one young woman clearly yelling "monkey" from the stands. Local media said she was identified though social media networks and reportedly was suspended from her job because of the case's repercussion.

"Gremio will do everything possible to help the police find the truth and those responsible for those acts," club president Fabio Koff told a news conference. "The punishment will be rigorous. We obviously regret what happened."

The club said it had initially identified "about five" of the fans and intended to ban them from the team's stadium. It said it was still working with local authorities to try to identify other fans.

Gremio released a video on its website condemning racism.

"Enough. Gremio is against any type of discrimination," said the video, which also showed many of Gremio's black players in action in the past. "We are blue (one of the team's colours). We are black. We are white."

The match was briefly interrupted as the goalkeeper talked to the referee, making monkey gestures and pointing to the fans.

The incident was included by the referee in the match report and Gremio is expected to face a suspension. The team was fined about $35,000 earlier this year for fans' racist insults against another player at the Arena Gremio.

"Unfortunately we live in a racist country," said Gremio midfielder Ze Roberto, who played for Brazil at the 2006 World Cup. "If there are images showing who's responsible for this, then there needs to be a punishment."

Santos striker Robinho, who has played in Spain, England and Italy, said that such incidents have to be taken seriously by local authorities.

"In Europe we have severe punishment for cases like this. Maybe it's what needs to start happening here," he said. "They need to identify the fans and really punish them."

Before the World Cup, Brazil defender Dani Alves was targeted by racist fans while playing for Barcelona in Spain, igniting a social media campaign against racism led by Brazil teammate Neymar.

In April, a Brazilian sports tribunal stripped points from Brazilian club Esportivo after its fans racially abused a referee during a match. The points deduction led to its relegation in a regional championship in southern Brazil.

The decision came after fans allegedly told the referee to "return to the jungle" and left bananas on top of his car.

That same month, a player for club Sao Bernardo filed a police report against Parana fans who allegedly taunted him with racist insults in a Brazilian Cup match. In March, a sports tribunal fined Brazilian club Mogi Mirim $21,000 because its fans racially abused former Brazil midfielder Arouca in a game against Santos in the Sao Paulo state championship.

The punishment to Mogi Mirim was announced on the same day that South American football's governing body fined Peruvian club Real Garcilaso $12,000 for fan abuse against Cruzeiro midfielder Tinga in a Copa Libertadores match.

"If there is no proper punishment, these acts will just keep happening," Santos coach Oswaldo Oliveira said.

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Follow Tales Azzoni at http://www.twitter.com/tazzoni

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