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Goncalves has 'no concerns' over Hearts visit after racism from fans

Goncalves in back in Scotland with Livingston after four years away.

Goncalves has no concerns about playing Hearts after speaking out on fans’ racism SNS Group

Esmael Goncalves says he has no concerns about playing against former club Hearts for the first time since he spoke out about being racially abused by supporters when he played for the club.

After moving to Uzbekistan side Pakhtakor Tashkent in 2018 the Guinea-Bissau striker revealed that family members had heard slurs being aimed towards him from the stands at Tynecastle.

He is now back in Scotland with Livingston and is looking forward to playing against his old side on Saturday when they visit Almondvale in the Premiership.

The 31-year-old, who scored 15 goals in 42 games in his two seasons with the Jambos, insists that he still loves the Hearts fans and says he wouldn’t judge the whole support on the small-minded actions of a few.

He said: “I don’t have any worries, I don’t think every Hearts fan is a racist, they have some people but It’s not everybody and I know that.

“I think I had a good spell there.

“There was a small incident, but I don’t keep it in my heart. I love Hearts fans so there is no problem there.

Since leaving the Premiership in a move worth £350,000 Goncalves has had spells at clubs in a host of countries including India, Japan, Bangladesh and Iran, but he is delighted to back in Scotland.

He said: “I love Scotland, I have been here already with Hearts and St Mirren, I love Scottish football and they have always been great with me here.”

At the time of the racism revelations Hearts issued a statement condemning any racist comments and warned it would not be accepted at Tynecastle.

The statement said: “In relation to the recent report of racial abuse directed towards Isma Goncalves, Heart of Midlothian Football Club wishes to make it very clear that it abhors racism and any type of prejudicial abuse, and will not tolerate any incidence of such behaviour.

“The club is committed to providing support for its players and a safe working environment for all staff, and if anyone is proven to have made racial remarks to individuals inside the stadium then they will be subject to an immediate football banning order and we will report every single such incident to Police Scotland for action.

“We are aware that, as ever, it is only a very small number of individuals who have let the club and themselves down in this manner.

“The club was unaware that these incidents had occurred, but we will immediately implement some additional pro-active measures to ensure there is a simple and easy process for players and their families to report any such incident.

“We pride ourselves in being a multi-race and multi-cultural club and will take all steps to ensure that players and their families who join us here in Edinburgh, can do so, free from any concerns over prejudice.”

Hearts also issued an apology to Goncalves and his family over the incidents.