Hearts manager Craig Levein ’embarrassed’ by Isma Goncalves racism allegations

Hearts manager Craig Levein told Sky Sports he feels 'slightly embarrassed' that Isma Goncalves did not tell him of alleged racist abuse

Hearts manager Craig Levein says he feels “slightly embarrassed” that Isma Goncalves did not tell him about alleged racist abuse.

The 26-year-old, who left Hearts last month to join Uzbekistan side Pakhtakor Tashkent, claimed the driving factor behind the move was the alleged racially-motivated taunts aimed at him from a minority of Hearts supporters.

The club have said they will apologise to their former striker and have promised to ban and report to police any fans found guilty of racial abuse.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Thursday, Levein said: “As a club we made a very strong statement. This, for me, is really important.

“I feel slightly embarrassed that Isma didn’t feel able to come and speak to me. That is on me.

“That allows me to then speak to the rest of the players which I will do and say: ‘I fully support any player who makes these allegations’.

“The club will do its utmost to stamp this out completely and I think it is really important that the players are able to come to me and talk about these things.

“That is something I can improve on and I do feel slightly embarrassed about it.”

Hearts travel to the Scottish Premiership’s bottom side Ross County on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, having lost just once in their last 15 matches in all competitions.

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February 17, 2018, 12:00pm

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“I hope that continues this weekend,” said Levein. “We’ve been a slow burner and we are picking up slowly and I am relatively happy with where we are at the moment.

“It is difficult sometimes to tell when things will ignite. We have been getting there slowly but sometimes that is better because there is some foundation to that.

“I am just hoping we can continue and keep improving.”