‘We had race at­tacks be­fore but no ac­tion’

Haringey man­ager says club’s plight is ig­nored Bris­tol City and Hearts fans ac­cused of abuse

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

The Haringey Bor­ough man­ager who hauled his team off the pitch af­ter racist abuse dur­ing an FA Cup qual­i­fier says the in­ci­dent is the lat­est in a long line of at­tacks against his black play­ers.

Tom Loizou says he is “not hold­ing my breath” for a ro­bust re­sponse from au­thor­i­ties af­ter his goal­keeper was pelted with stones and bot­tles and al­legedly called a “black c---” by Yeovil Town fans.

Yes­ter­day the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion said it was “deeply con­cerned” about the abuse and promised it was work­ing “as a mat­ter of ur­gency to fully es­tab­lish the facts and take the ap­pro­pri­ate steps”.

How­ever, Loizou said he had pre­vi­ously con­cluded “we weren’t a high-pro­file enough club to have any­thing done about it” af­ter other al­le­ga­tions were raised. “We’ve had loads of in­ci­dents here over the years,” the man­ager told The Daily Tele­graph, in­clud­ing one against his goal­keeper four years ago. “Ev­ery­one’s got to fol­low pro­to­col, say the right thing, be po­lit­i­cal.”

Loizou said his play­ers were vis­i­bly dis­traught af­ter the episode on Satur­day. As well as the team’s black play­ers fac­ing abuse, he claims women work­ing in the club’s burger bar were left cry­ing af­ter lewd in­sults.

Af­ter the team’s walk-off, Kick It Out, which recorded 442 cases of dis­crim­i­na­tory abuse in­clud­ing ho­mo­pho­bia, anti-semitism and Is­lam­o­pho­bia last sea­son, praised Loizou’s “de­ci­sive ac­tion”, com­par­ing the re­sponse with Eng­land’s against the racists in Bul­garia.

Kick It Out says it passes on ev­ery re­port to rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties. “We have no power to in­ves­ti­gate or is­sue pun­ish­ments,” the char­ity said. “That re­spon­si­bil­ity lies with foot­ball’s au­thor­i­ties and, in some in­stances, the po­lice.”

On the day the Pre­mier League and English Foot­ball League launched high-pro­file anti-racism cam­paigns, the Isth­mian League Pre­mier Di­vi­sion side walked off in the 64th minute af­ter Yeovil fans aimed most of their abuse at goal­keeper Valery Dou­glas Pa­je­tat.

The goal­keeper told The Tele­graph: “My ob­jec­tive is not to crit­i­cise Yeovil Town because the play­ers had a good re­ac­tion and sup­ported me. I feel re­ally re­ally sad and dis­ap­pointed that the ef­forts the play­ers make, that these fans did what they did.”

Pa­je­tat’s team-mate, Coby Rowe, also faced slurs in the build-up to a Yeovil penalty, which Rhys Mur­phy con­verted. Rowe had to be re­strained by se­cu­rity as Haringey’s play­ers left the Coles Park pitch, while Yeovil’s cap­tain went over to speak to his fans, as did the ref­eree. With Yeovil lead­ing 1-0 in the fourth-round qual­i­fier, Haringey de­cided while in the dress­ing room not to re­turn to the pitch because play­ers feared for their safety.

Yeovil’s West Coun­try neigh­bours, Bris­tol City, also faced al­le­ga­tions of racism by fans against Lu­ton Town on Satur­day. The in­ci­dents come af­ter both Greg Clarke, the FA chair­man, and Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend said the English game must not be com­pla­cent about tack­ling its own prob­lems amid the furore fol­low­ing the Bul­garia Euro 2020 qual­i­fier.

Loizou, who has since said he is not both­ered about get­ting the FA Cup match re­played, feels sym­pa­thy with play­ers in the pro­fes­sional game because Uefa’s three-step pro­to­col is a “bit of a joke”.

“I did it for my play­ers, no other rea­son,” Loizou said, ex­plain­ing why he asked to stop the game. “Whether the FA wants to throw us out for walk­ing off the pitch I re­ally don’t care. We’re not play­ing base­ball and it’s three hits and you’re out. Un­for­tu­nately, pro­fes­sional play­ers are gov­erned by this rule, but what can they do to me? The pro­to­col is a bit of a joke and I have ev­ery sym­pa­thy with the play­ers and Gareth South­gate.”

Loizou said some of his play­ers “were shak­ing”. “We’re a small foot­ball club, we haven’t got big bud­gets. I have to find play­ers in the lower leagues, Sun­day leagues, and de­velop them. When I saw the look on their faces it was the eas­i­est de­ci­sion to take them off. All Valery has got is the Yeovil fans throw­ing stones at his head. Spitting at him, chant­ing at him and then throw­ing bot­tles. The goal­keeper’s done so well not to re­act. I saw it all.”

He said the Yeovil play­ers and staff had re­acted in an ex­em­plary fash­ion, but branded some of the fans “an­i­mals”. “When the per­son stand­ing next to him sees him and hears it, why are they not do­ing any­thing about it? I spent all week with vol­un­teers seg­re­gat­ing the ground, putting peb­bles down so they could walk with­out mud on their shoes. Shop­ping for hot dogs, burg­ers, to feed these an­i­mals.” Po­lice said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of racist com­ments and items thrown on to the pitch.

Else­where, Hearts and Bris­tol City have started in­ves­ti­ga­tions fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of racist abuse from their fans dur­ing over the week­end.

Rangers striker Al­fredo More­los was al­leged to have been tar­geted af­ter scor­ing a 39th-minute equaliser at Hearts. Bris­tol City fans were ac­cused of racist chant­ing dur­ing their 3-0 Cham­pi­onship de­feat at Lu­ton Town on Satur­day.

In Se­rie A, Eng­land Un­der-21 mid­fielder Ron­aldo Vieira was sub­jected to racist chants by fans while play­ing for Sam­p­do­ria against Roma.

Flash­point: Coby Rowe of Haringey Bor­ough is held back af­ter be­ing the sub­ject of abuse, the play­ers walk off (ex­treme left) and goal­keeper Valery Dou­glas Pa­je­tat (left) points out the al­leged source

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