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By ESPN Staff

Brazilian soccer player faces criminal racism charge

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Brazilian soccer player with racism, a crime in Brazil, for insulting an opponent in a match last month.

Prosecutors in the southern Rio Grande do Sul state charged Juventude defender Antonio Carlos after TV images showed him shouting "monkey" during a state league match on March 5.

Antonio Carlos -- who previously played with Italy's AC Roma, Brazil's Palmeiras and Santos and Brazil's national team -- faces from one to three years in prison if found guilty.

Prosecutors said, however, the player can avoid a trial if he agrees to have 10,000 handbills made with the saying, "We are all equal," and "Say no to racism." He would have to help distribute the handbills during sporting events in the city of Caxias do Sul, where Juventude hosts its matches. Caxias is about 750 kilometers (465 miles) south of Sao Paulo.

Racism is a crime in Brazil not subject to bail.

The Sports Justice Tribunal of Rio Grande do Sul already had suspended Antonio Carlos for 120 days and four matches for what it called "moral offenses" and "nonsporting attitudes."

The incident happened after Antonio Carlos' hard foul on Gremio midfielder Jeovanio, who is black. Antonio Carlos was sent off, and TV cameras caught him making the insults as he left the field.

About half of Brazil's 185 million people are black or mixed-race, and some of its best soccer players -- including Pele and Ronaldinho, voted the world's best player -- are black.

Last year, Quilmes defender Leandro Desabato of Argentina was led off the field by Brazilian police and arrested for alleged racial insults against Sao Paulo striker Grafite at Morumbi stadium in Sao Paulo in a Copa Libertadores match.

He was released after nearly 40 hours in jail, and the case was later dismissed.

FIFA adopted anti-racism regulations last month that increased penalties for teams whose fans engage in racial taunting of players, including disqualification from competitions and banishment for up to two years for member federations.

Brazil's Soccer Confederation, of CBF, said it will enforce the new regulations when the Brazilian national championship begins Sunday.