Craig Levein 'embarrassed' over racism claims

15 February 2018, 15:15

Tynecastle Stadium Hearts

Hearts manager Craig Levein admits to feeling "slightly embarrassed" that Isma Goncalves felt he could not report alleged racial abuse to him and admits it may not be an isolated incident.

Goncalves, who has recently departed Tynecastle, told the Edinburgh Evening News on Wednesday that he had left the club due to alleged racial abuse from the stands.

The striker claimed his family were affected by abuse coming from fans and said they were uncomfortable after hearing him described as "a f****** black" during a game.

The club responded with a forceful statement promising to ban any fans found guilty, and Levein is embarrassed that the striker could not approach him with the problem before leaving for Uzbekistan and is set to apologise to him personally on Thursday afternoon.

"I was obviously sad and slightly embarrassed that Isma didn't feel he could come to me and talk about it," he said. "That's on me and it's something I need to look at.

"If we have a player who has been struggling and has suffered racial abuse, then I need to make it easier for him to come and speak to me and talk about it.

"If you read the statement you can see how clear (chairwoman) Anne (Budge) has been about this and how everybody is disgusted by what has happened.

"I have been trying to get hold of Isma and we're going to speak this afternoon and I will apologise to him about what has happened."

He also admitted it may not be an isolated incident following discussions with the rest of his squad.

Levein said: "Not to this extent, but there have been issues. I don't want to go into other details, but I have spoken to other players regarding what had happened."

The Jambos boss echoed the club statement made on Wednesday which promised to ban guilty parties, and insists they will come down hard on anybody who partakes in such abuse.

"I will never experience this so it's difficult to talk about it, all I can do is provide support and try to help if a situation arises," he said.

"The club will be really strong on anyone who gets reported for this type of behaviour, I don't care how long they have been Hearts supporters, if they are found to be dishing out racial abuse to anybody in the stadium, they are gone."

He added: "As a club we have been very supportive of players with other problems, and I assure you that if Isma had made it known, we would have dealt with this as soon as possible."