A senior staff member of an Argentine club pointedly pretended to eat a banana after his team were knocked out of a continental tournament by Brazilian opponents
Racing Club goalkeeping coach Juan Carlos Gambande could be in hot water after he was photographed eating an imaginary banana in the direction of Atletico Mineiro fans following a Copa Libertadores match.
Gambande made the gesture after Racing were knocked out at the last-16 stage by the Brazilian club. He was caught on camera and his actions sparked outrage in South America.
The Argentine clearly fashioned an invisible banana, which he slowly peeled and pretended to eat. The act was interpreted to imply that the Brazilian fans were monkeys. The photo montage above was created using images taken by photojournalist Cristiane Mattos.
The images went viral and when the squad returned to Buenos Aires on Thursday, Gambande’s arrival was met by the local press. Goal Argentina reports that he did not make any public statements, but nodded his head when asked if he regretted the gesture.
The incident came two days after the AFA made an agreement with the National Institute Against Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination (INADI) to eradicate discrimination from football.
Lucas Pratto’s 72nd-minute goal saw Atletico Mineiro win 2-1 on the night and on aggregate. Carlos was also on target for the hosts, with Lisandro Lopez scoring a penalty for the Argentine side.
The first leg – a goalless draw in Buenos Aires – was also marred by controversy after Atletico forward Robinho was hit by a lighter thrown from the stands.
Atletico will face fellow Brazilians Sao Paulo in the quarter-finals.