MOSCOW — Russia's football authorities vowed to step up the fight against racism Thursday after a fan threw a banana at Roberto Carlos in the latest apparent racial attack on the Brazilian former World Cup winner.
Carlos, a defender for revamped Caucasus side Anzhi Makhachkala since February, received a pass from the goalkeeper and was about to pass it when a banana was thrown on to the pitch, landing nearby.
The 38-year-old Brazilian picked it up and threw it back, walking off the field before the final whistle and raising two fingers at the stands, indicating this was the second such incident since March.
Both Anzhi and their hosts -- Krylya Sovetov of the Volga city of Samara -- denounced the insult and vowed to find the culprit.
"The stadium is no place for racism," Anzhi said in a statement after the match, demanding that the fan be identified and punished.
It is the second such incident in a matter of months. In March a fan was pictured holding the fruit out to Carlos during a game against Zenit Saint Petersburg. Zenit was fined 300,000 roubles ($10,700) and banned the fan from its games.
Carlos has proved a huge success after signing for the Dagestan outfit in February in a late-career move, inspiring the previously marginal team to fourth in the Russian Premier League so far this season.
He has also charmed the Russian public, in football and outside, with his usually smiling demeanour and an apparent genuine interest in the country.
Russia's Premier League issued an appeal to fans to prevent fellow supporters tarnishing the reputation of the Russian game.
"People allowing themselves such outbursts are sitting next to you at the stadiums. If you don't want your club to suffer, don't let them disgrace Russian football," it said.
Carlos was shown after the incident sitting down on the bench and burying his head in a towel in distress. "Such things should not be tolerated in civilised countries," he told Sport Express newspaper after the match.
He added that he "felt deep disappointment and had no desire to continue the game," which Anzhi ended up winning 3-0.
Premier League spokesman Sergei Alekseyev said the league is ready to do everything to "change the situation" with discrimination against players, but added that legal prosecution is not always possible.
"The stadium in itself is a democratic environment," he told AFP. "The police can seize flares, but how can they seize fruit?" he asked.
Krylya Sovetov said on its website that it will "do everything to find and punish the scumbag who insulted the wonderful and respected footballer," and announced a 50,000 rouble ($1,700) reward for information about the culprit.
Russian Football Union head Sergei Fursenko said the union will also "investigate the incident and punish it in the harshest way", in televised remarks.
But spokesman for Samara regional police Sergei Goldshtein said the fan is not likely to face any punishment from the police.
"We are trying to identify him due to the large public outcry," he told AFP. "But there is no existing legal liability for throwing bananas or other objects on the field."
Foreign players have previously complained of suffering from racist outbursts, with Cameroonian Andre Bikey breaking off his contract with Lokomotiv Moscow in 2007 after alleging racial abuse.
Some of Russia's football fans are closely interrelated with far-right groups and often show up at nationalist rallies, the largest of which drew 5,000 near the Kremlin in December before turning violent.
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