Esmael Goncalves: Racist abuse from some fans forced me out of Hearts

Esmael Goncalves has claimed that being subjected to racist abuse from a 'minority of supporters' played a big part in his decision to quit Hearts.

Esmael Goncalves in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS Group
Esmael Goncalves in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS Group

The Portuguese forward, 26, spent a year at Tynecastle before joining Uzbekistan side Pakhtakor Tashkent during last month’s transfer window.

But in an interview with The Scotsman’s sister paper, the Edinburgh Evening News, Goncalves opened up on the racist comments that he says had a “big impact” on him and his family, who stopped going to games as a result of the abuse.

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Speaking to the Evening News, Goncalves said: “I didn’t want to leave Hearts at first, but the problem was that my family were no longer coming to the games.

“There were some people making racist comments to me in the stadium and my family did not feel okay about this.

“It was a minority, but bad things even from a minority can have a big impact.

“My family should be able to go to the stadium and feel comfortable – it’s not nice when your son, your wife and your brother have to listen to people calling me ‘a f****** black’.”

Goncalves, who had spells with Nice, Portuguese side Rio Ave, St Mirren and Cypriot outfit Anorthosis Famagusta before joining Hearts, admitted that, while he had never personally heard racist comments on the pitch, he was subjected to abuse on Instagram that was “really, really bad.”

Goncalves continued: “On the pitch I never heard racist comments because I wasn’t focusing on what people in the stand were saying, but my family and others in the stand told me they had heard a lot of racist comments about me.

“I got some racist comments on Instagram that I can’t even say because they were really, really bad.

“I was really disappointed and I didn’t understand why the people were being so bad to me. We are human beings and this shouldn’t happen, especially in the UK.

“There are a lot of black people in the UK. I might expect this in Italy, where they have a problem with racism, but not in the UK.

“Come on, please. The fact I play for the team whose supporters are giving me the racist comments, I can’t accept that.”

You can read the full interview with Goncalves on edinburghnews.com