Real Betis may face punishment for fans directing racist abuse at their own club’s defender Paulao after he was sent off during Sunday’s 4-0 city derby defeat at Sevilla.
Centre-back Paulao picked up two quick bookings with the game at 1-0 just before half-time, and television footage of the incident appeared to show a number of Verdiblanco fans directing ‘monkey noises’ towards the player as he walked in distress from the field.
Andalucian sports daily Estadio Deportivo reported Paulao as telling reporters in the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan’s mixed zone that he was sorry for having cost his team the game, but apparently he was not asked about the behaviour of the ‘supporters’.
“I apologise to the fans and my teammates, I am the one responsible,” the Brazilian said. “We lost because of me. I had a yellow card and my will to win overcame me. The only thing I can do is apologise, because I did not remember I had the yellow.”
Sunday’s was not the first such incident involving Betis fans abusing their own players -- with midfielder Nosa Igiebor reacting angrily after receiving similar abuse during last year’s 3-3 home derbi, but apologising afterwards for his own reactions.
Such cases in Spanish football have rarely attracted much comment, however two Elche fans were singled out for punishment after directing racist abuse at Granada defender Allan-Romeo Nyom during a game on Oct. 26, perhaps because Nyom himself drew attention to the abuse he was receiving, and referee Carlos Del Cerro stopped the game and then included details of the incident in his official report.
The two young Elche ‘ultras’ were reportedly to be fined four thousand euros each and banned from attending sports events for 12 months.
A La Liga club whose supporters are found guilty of racist abuse can be fined up to 60,000 euros and have their ground closed for subsequent games.
Barcelona right-back Dani Alves is among a number of La Liga players to have condemned racist behaviour by opposition supporters in the past, but serious action is rarely taken against the perpetrators.