Argentine player held in Brazil for racist insults

Updated: April 14, 2005, 9:23 AM ET

By Pedro Fonseca

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 14 - An Argentine footballer spent Wednesday night in custody after allegedly racially insulting a Brazilian opponent during a Libertadores Cup match, a Sao Paulo police spokesman said on Thursday.

Quilmes defender Leandro Desabato was arrested by police at the end of his team's 3-1 defeat by Sao Paulo on Wednesday night over a first-half incident involving rival striker Grafite, the official told Reuters.

Desabato was taken to the nearest station for questioning and spent the night in a police cell.

His team mates, who had been due to return to Buenos Aires on an early flight, stayed in the city, media reports said.

Sao Paulo players had complained that Quilmes supporters racially insulted them during the first match in Buenos Aires last month. Quilmes later sent a formal apology.

Wednesday's incident happened in injury time at the end of the first half of an bad-tempered match.

Grafite was involved in a tangle with Carlos Arano, another Quilmes player, and Desabato appeared to make a comment as he joined in the altercation.

Grafite shoved his hand in Desabato's face and was sent off along with Arano. The referee took no action against Desabato.

There were chaotic scenes as Quilmes left the pitch at the end of the game and they continued outside the visiting dressing room, where dozens of Brazilian cameramen and photographers were waiting for the visiting players.

"There's no need for all this chaos," Quilmes coach Gustavo Alfaro told a media conference. "A football match should start and finish on the pitch."

"This has all been handled in the wrong way. It was an unnecessary spectacle -- (for the police) to come on to the field in front of 50,000 or 60,000 people when the player's pulse-rate is still high, he's just lost a game ..."

"There should be a different way of dealing with this ... Nobody has benefitted from this."

Alfaro added: "I hope that the next time a Brazilian team comes to play in Argentina, their directors, their players, their staff and their journalists are well treated, without all this chaos."

Brazil and Argentina share one of the world's most bitter footballing rivalries which often spills over into violence, especially during club matches.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index