Thursday 25 June 2009

Argentine Lopez accused of racism at Libertadores match

Argentine striker Maxi Lopez of Brazilian club Gremio is accused of racism by Cruzeiro's midfielder Elicarlos during a Libertadores Cup semi-final.

Argentine striker Maxi Lopez of Gremio was accused of racism by midfielder Elicarlos of Cruzeiro after the team's Libertadores Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday (June 24).
Elicarlos, who is black, and former River Plate and Barcelona striker Lopez had a heated argument on the pitch during the first half of the match at the Mineirao stadium with other angry Cruzeiro players also getting involved.

"He (striker Maxi Lopez) came to me and called me a macaco (monkey)," Elicarlos told reporters after Cruzeiro's 3-1 victory in Belo Horizonte, adding that he would report the incident to the police.

Lopez denied Elicarlos' accusations.

"Relax, relax. He's playing for his team and I'm playing for mine. He's speaking nonsense," he told reporters as he left the field.

The referee had his eye on play which had moved downfield.

Lopez, Gremio coach Paulo Autuori and other Gremio players left the team bus, which was surrounded by police, to make a statement at a police station inside the stadium.

Police Chief Daniel Barcelos said Lopez told him it was a normal game argument.

"Player Maxi Lopez told me it was a regular game discussion," he told reporters.

Gremio coach Paulo Autuori tried to play down the incident.

"Racism? Everyday we see racism from important people who have responsibilities. We have to put an end to this hypocrisy," he said, shortly after testifying.

In 2005, Argentine defender Leandro Desabato spent 40 hours in police custody in Brazil after an alleged racist insult during a Libertadores Cup match.

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