`Fascist' Gil under fire

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Spanish sporting authorities are considering taking action against the president of Atletico Madrid, the flamboyant Jesus Gil y Gil, for racist remarks that he made against a Colombian member of his team, Adolfo Valencia.

Gil, who is also the mayor of Marbella, was furious that his team could manage only a goalless draw against Logroes, who are bottom of the Spanish League. "I'd like to machine-gun the lot of them," he said. "I'll cut that black's head off. Snow White should come with her seven dwarfs. He should go back to Colombia to see if they really kill him" - a reference to last year's murder of Andres Escobar of the Colombian World Cup team.

The outburst has caused a furore in Spain and prompted the Colombian ambassador in Madrid, Maria Emma Mejia, to send a note of formal complaint. The remarks were, she said, "inappropriate and xenophobic". The Secretary of State for Sport, Rafael Cortes Elvira, condemned Gil for his "fascist declarations" - "a direct attack on the democratic system."

After the match, Atletico fans hurled insults at the players, particularly Valencia, as they boarded the team bus. "Black rubbish", "Black drug trafficker," and "Go back to Colombia," accompanied by a fascist salute, were some of the comments.

Spain's National Commission against Violence in Sport meets today to discuss sanctions. "We are dealing with an incitement to violence," a spokesman said, also condemning racist graffiti against Valencia, painted on Atletico's Calderon stadium after recent defeat at the hands of Real Madrid and not removed for three days.

By Monday, Gil who is standing for re-election on 28 May for his Independent Liberal Group (GIL), had calmed down. "In case I upset the team, and since I've got my political campaign, I'm not going to travel with the team nor go down to the changing-room, or interfere any more."

Gil apologised to Cortes Elvira, saying that he was, by nature, against violence. "I was only speaking figuratively," he said.

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