Desabato granted bail after arrest for racist abuse
Friday 15 Apr 2005
Argentine footballer Leandro Desabato has been granted bail after spending Thursday in custody on charges of racially insulting a Brazilian opponent during a Libertadores Cup match in Sao Paulo.
Desabato, who plays for Buenos Aires club Quilmes, was arrested on the pitch at the end of their 3-1 defeat by Sao Paulo on Wednesday evening following a clash with rival striker Grafite.
But the player, who will be allowed back to his team's hotel as soon as the bail of £2000 is paid, can still not leave Brazil, where he faces charges of slander aggravated by racism.
Quilmes said Desabato had been the victim of a farce and the accusations against him were based on lip-reading by television viewers.
They also said their directors had been aggressively treated at the Morumbi stadium and that Brazilian authorities were seeking publicity.
Desabato, who has been charged with the crime of slander aggravated by racism, was seen to say something to Grafite in an off-the-ball incident in first-half injury time.
Grafite shoved his hand in Desabato's face and was sent off along with Quilmes midfielder Carlos Arano. The referee took no action against Desabato.
"I don't regret this. I'm not withdrawing the allegation and I'm going to let justice take its course, It's difficult for me when I suffer this type of prejudice."
Television pictures released on Thursday showed police coming on to the pitch at the end of the game and arresting Desabato, to the bemusement of the Argentine team.
One official was heard to say "racism" loudly several times. The Quilmes players replied "no" in unison, gesticulating in disbelief.
Quilmes left the field amid chaotic scenes which continued outside the visiting dressing room, where dozens of Brazilian cameramen and photographers gathered.
Desabato was taken to a police station, questioned and kept overnight. He was later transferred to another police station which had better conditions for prisoners.
In the afternoon, he was visited by Nicolas Leoz, president of the South American Football Confederation (CSF).
Sao Paulo president Marcelo Portugal Gouvea said in a radio interview that Quilmes had asked him to intervene but the club had backed Grafite, who wanted to take the case all the way.
Quilmes coach Gustavo Alfaro said: "It was a farce arranged by the Sao Paulo players. The witnesses are two television viewers who said they read his (Desabato's) lips."
Quilmes vice-president Jose Luis Meizner said: "This is not a coincidence, it seems that in Brazil there's a competition with Europe to see which country is leading the fight against racism. We're not moving from here until this is sorted."