RIO DE JANIERO: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said racism in football has become "a plague" following the latest incident to hit the country's domestic competition.
Her comments on Saturday came two days after Santos goalkeeper Aranha was racially abused by Gremio supporters during a Copa do Brasil quarter-final in Porto Alegre on Thursday, reports Xinhua.
Gremio, who lost the match 0-2, Friday banned five fans from attending home matches for an indefinite period. Police and public prosecutors are also investigating the accusations.
"I think it's very serious that racism has appeared so much in football," Rousseff was quoted saying by the ‘Folha de S. Paulo’ newspaper.
"Football is a sport in which our non-white sportspersons affirmed themselves and gave pride to all of Brazil. Racism in football is becoming a plague."
A Brazilian sports tribunal has temporarily suspended the return match between Gremio and Santos at the behest of public prosecutors.
Gremio could be fined up to $40,000 and be eliminated from the Copa do Brasil.
The incident is the latest in a growing list of racism cases involving South American football fans.
In February, former Brazil international midfielder Tinga was the target of monkey chants during a Copa Libertadores match between Cruzeiro and Real Garcilaso in Peru.
A month later, Santos midfielder Arouca was the victim of racial abuse during his team's Sao Paulo state league match against Mogi Mirim.
Racist chants were also directed at referee Marcio Chagas da Silva during the Rio de Janeiro state championship match between Esportivo and Veranopolis in March.
Indo-Asian News Service