Ricardo Caruso Lombardi quit Miramar Misiones on Wednesday. JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images

Ricardo Caruso Lombardi stepped down as coach of Uruguayan Primera Division strugglers Miramar Misiones on Wednesday (22 May) while under investigation for racially abusing a referee.

The 62-year-old Argentine lost his temper in a stormy finish to the side's 2-1 defeat at Liverpool FC in Montevideo on Monday. Miramar had two players sent off in stoppage time, having already been reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

When referee Javier Feres then showed Caruso Lombardi a red card, the veteran former Quilmes and Argentinos Juniors coach used an expletive and racial slur against the official. Caruso Lombardi apologised hours later on X, saying he was "ashamed" and admitting, "I should not act this way even if my heart rate is racing."

On Tuesday, he told Radio Sport 890 he was not a racist, saying, "I live with several guys who are dark-skinned and we are always joking around and hugging." He blamed anger for his outburst, adding, "It's the way I speak when I get angry."

While on air, Caruso Lombardi said he would resign due to the lengthy ban he knew he would receive. He revealed, "My position is to leave Miramar Misiones. I can't go five games without managing my team. They're going to give me a five-game suspension because they're going to use me as an example. I had a bitter day yesterday."

According to AFP, the prosecutor's office said it had opened an investigation into alleged incitement to hatred, which carries a penalty of between three and 18 months in prison, and has requested witnesses and video footage of the incident. The Afro-Uruguayan group, Atabaque, has urged the justice system to take "exemplary" action.

The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) condemned Caruso Lombardi's behaviour and said it would take disciplinary action, while the Uruguayan Association of Football Referees (AUDAF) called for a punishment of "the greatest severity possible."

Caruso Lombardi, who had a reputation for saving teams from relegation in the Argentinian top flight, took over as Miramar head coach last month. In his six games in charge, the team had one win, one draw and four defeats.

Miramar lie bottom of the Primera Division table with just eight points from 13 games. Another Argentine - former Boca Juniors and Huracan head coach Sebastian Battaglia - has been tipped to succeed Caruso Lombardi at the Montevideo club.