HEARTS have launched an investigation into alleged racial abuse towards Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos during yesterday’s 1-1 Ladbrokes Premiership draw between the teams at Tynecastle. The incident in question is believed to have occurred when the Ibrox side’s Colombian striker equalised a Ryo Meshino opener for Hearts then celebrated by sliding on his knees in front of the home fans.

"The club is aware of the incident in question and is currently investigating it,” read a statement issued by the Gorgie side yesterday. "It goes without saying that Heart of Midlothian Football Club utterly condemns any form of racism and any individuals found guilty of such an offence will face an indefinite ban from Tynecastle Park."

If the case is proven, Hearts owner Ann Budge is no stranger to taking strong action against the club’s own fans where it comes to supporter misbehaviour. Parts of Tynecastle were closed for the final two home games of last season after pyrotechnics and coins were thrown onto the pitch after a defeat to Hibernian, with the club also operating a hotline whereby fans can anonymously report anti-social or offensive behaviour from their fellow fans.

Certain areas of Tynecastle remained closed yesterday although the incident in question yesterday is believed to have occurred at the Gorgie Road end of the ground where the family section is located. The incident comes at the end of a week where England’s international match with Bulgaria was twice suspended for racist chanting, an incident which led to both the head of the Bulgarian FA and international manager Krassimir Balakov stepping down from their posts

"We have closed corner sections,” Hearts chairwoman Ann Budge said back in August. “That will remain in place because it helped. If somebody sees another supporter or other supporters misbehaving to the point that they think 'this is unacceptable', we can do something about it, and we have done."

Only last week former Hibs striker Kevin Harper, now manager of Albion Rovers, said the authorities must be vigilant to stop racism creeping back into the game. “I experienced it through my career as a player," he said. "But it’s really disappointing to see it coming back over the past five years or so – even though I don’t think it ever really went away. When it comes to racial abuse of black players, not just the sectarianism that we have as well in Scotland, there is still a problem.”