Brazil star Neymar in race row after banana thrown

LONDON, March 28, 2011 (AFP) - Brazil star Neymar was at the centre of a racism row after the teenager claimed a banana was thrown at him during Sunday's 2-0 friendly win over Scotland in London on Sunday.

Santos striker Neymar scored twice to seal Brazil's win at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, but the 19-year-old's memorable day turned sour when he was allegedly subjected to a racist attack.

Neymar scores a penalty during the international friendly football match against Scotland. AFP

A Brazilian press officer confirmed a banana had been thrown on the pitch and Neymar, who is a transfer target for Chelsea and Real Madrid, told Brazilian television that he suffered abuse throughout the match.

In the past, bananas have often been thrown at coloured players by racist fans in stadiums across Europe, but the foul practice had died out recently.

Neymar had been booed by Scotland fans after a lengthy spell of treatment for a first half injury, but it is not certain who threw the banana as the fruit came from a section of the ground largely populated by Brazilian supporters.

"This atmosphere of racism is totally sad," Neymar told Sportv. "They were jeering me a lot, even when I was about to kick the penalty the entire stadium was jeering.

"We leave our country to play here and something like this happens. It's sad. I would rather not even talk about it, to keep the subject from escalating."

Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva, who plays in England with Liverpool, is said to have removed the banana from the pitch and he added: "There is no more space for racism in the world. They say it's the first world here in Europe, but it's where it happens the most.

"That has to change. everybody is equal today, it's a matter of respect."

Selecao coach Mano Menezes admitted he hadn't seen the incident.

"I didn't see that," Menezes said. "We didn't have the displeasure of watching it. If it happened it is lamentable but we don't have confirmation of the event."

Scotland boss Craig Levein added: "I don't know anything about that."

The accusations drew an angry response from Scottish fans, however, and Hamish Husband, spokesman for the association of Tartan Army supporters clubs, said: "The reason Neymar was booed was because we believed he was feigning injury during the course of the game.

"Racism has no place within the Tartan Army and if it did exist it would be stamped out immediately as we are self-policing.

"We felt he was feigning injury and any suggestion of racism amongst our supporters is absolute tosh.

"We gave the game to Brazil through a Scotsman and the match against Brazil in 1982 was the birth of the modern Tartan Army.

"As a result of that match we have always had a strong affinity with that country and national team.

"As far as I am concerned we accepted that Brazil played us off the park and we applauded them for the quality of their football at the end of the game."

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