Hearts issue strong statement on Esmael Goncalves' racism claims

Hearts will ban any supporters guilty of racist abuse following claims by the club's former striker Esmael Goncalves.

Hearts will ban any racists after Esmael Goncalves' claims
Hearts will ban any racists after Esmael Goncalves' claims

The Portuguese striker told the Evening News that members of his family heard him being called a "f****** black" during games before he moved to Uzbekistan last month.

In an official statement released today, Hearts condemned such actions from fans and stressed that anyone engaging in racist behaviour will be banned and reported to police.

The statement read: "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.

"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."

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Esmael Goncalves claims minority of Hearts fans racially abused him