Brazilian football club Grêmio has been expelled from the 2014 Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) over a high-profile racist incident, the country's top sports court ruled Wednesday.

The Supreme Sports Justice Tribunal came to a unanimous decision after a hearing in Rio de Janeiro that lasted almost four hours.

It is the first time a Brazilian football club has received such a punishment in a Brazilian Football Confederation match, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reports. However, the club can still appeal and another hearing is set for 15 days.

During an Aug. 28 match goalkeeper Aranha, of rival Santos football club, was subjected to verbal abuse – racist chants and monkey noises – by a group of Grêmio fans at their stadium in Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Local police opened an investigation into the incident at Aranha's behest, and have since identified a number of Grêmio fans involved - aided by the case being so widely reported in the Brazilian press.

The football club was initially fined $22,350 for the incident, but was allowed to stay in the competition.

During the hearing, Grêmio argued in its defense that it had promoted anti-racism campaigns at its club, and that a punishment for the incident would reduce its efficacy.

However, it was made clear that the incident was not the first to occur at the club's arena.

The referee and his assistants at last week's match were also punished for failing to take action.

 - Unprecedented decision

 Brazilian football writer and co-author of "A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football," Mauricio Savarese told the Anadolu Agency that the unprecedented decision was an encouraging sign for the sport and its regulatory system. 

"It is the one moral decision Brazil's sports court has made in a long time. It is not only educational, it is a landmark for a country that likes to feel racially tolerant, when in fact it is not."

Savarese says the court had until more recently been overly lenient in similar cases, including a perceived failure to investigate similar cases, but now "clubs and fans will not be able to hide."

A series of racist incidents also dogged this year's FIFA World Cup, hosted by Brazil. However, racism in football is seen as more of an issue at some European clubs, particularly in Spain and Russia, and has involved Brazilian players.

Brazilian defender Dani Alves was subjected to racist abuse at a Barcelona game in April, in which he was called a "monkey" and had a banana thrown his direction onto the pitch. Defiant, Alves picked up the banana and took a symbolic bite, sparking an anti-racism #somostodosmacacos (we are all monkeys) campaign led by fellow Brazilian and Barcelona teammate Neymar.