Hearts to apologise to Isma Goncalves after alleged racist abuse
Scottish Premiership club vows action after former striker Isma Goncalves claims abuse influenced decision to leave in January
Hearts will apologise to former striker Isma Goncalves and have promised to ban and report to police any fans found guilty of racially abusing the striker.
The 26-year-old left Hearts last month after clinching a £350,000 switch to Uzbekistan outfit Pakhtakor Tashkent.
Goncalves now claims the driving factor behind the move was the alleged racially-motivated taunts aimed at him by a minority of the Jambos support during his 12-month stay at the capital club.
The former St Mirren forward told the Edinburgh Evening News: “I didn’t want to leave Hearts at first, but the problem was that my family were no longer coming to the games.
The club will be contacting Isma to apologise to him and his family on behalf of the thousands of supporters who share our anger and disappointment that they were subjected to this behaviour.
“There were some people making racist comments to me in the stadium and my family did not feel okay about this. It was a minority, but bad things even from a minority can have a big impact.
“My family should be able to go to the stadium and feel comfortable – it’s not nice when your son, your wife and your brother have to listen to people calling me ‘a f****** black’.”
Now Hearts chiefs have promised to take action against anyone found to be engaging in discriminatory behaviour after offering a full apology to Goncalves.
“In relation to the recent report of racial abuse directed towards Isma Goncalves, Heart of Midlothian Football Club wishes to make it very clear that it abhors racism and any type of prejudicial abuse, and will not tolerate any incidence of such behaviour,” said Hearts in a statement.
“The club is committed to providing support for its players and a safe working environment for all staff, and if anyone is proven to have made racial remarks to individuals inside the stadium then they will be subject to an immediate football banning order and we will report every single such incident to Police Scotland for action.
“We would urge supporters who witness any such behaviour to contact the club, be it in person at Tynecastle, via our Supporter Services email address, by phoning us or by texting our incident report line in confidence, which can be found inside the stadium’s concourse.
“We are aware that, as ever, it is only a very small number of individuals who have let the club and themselves down in this manner.
“The club was unaware that these incidents had occurred, but we will immediately implement some additional pro-active measures to ensure there is a simple and easy process for players and their families to report any such incident.
“We pride ourselves in being a multi-race and multi-cultural club and will take all steps to ensure that players and their families who join us here in Edinburgh, can do so, free from any concerns over prejudice.
“The club will be contacting Isma to apologise to him and his family on behalf of the thousands of supporters who share our anger and disappointment that they were subjected to this behaviour.”