1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Two arrested for alleged racist abuse during football match

October 21, 2019

An FA Cup match in England was abandoned on the weekend following alleged racial abuse from the stands. Police have now arrested two men in the course of their investigation.

Die Grasnarbe auf vom Spielfeld während dem Fussball DFB Pokal 2 Hauptrunden Spiel FC St Pauli in Hamburg
Image: imago/Schiffmann

All eyes are on the English Football Association as the country's governing body investigates claims of racial abuse during an FA Cup qualifying match.

Haringey Borough, who play in the seventh tier of English football, walked off the pitch in their Cup fixture against Yeovil Town on Saturday in response to alleged racial abuse from Yeovil fans in the stands.

It was the first time such action has been taken by a professional or semi-professional football club in England, and comes just days after England players were bombarded with monkey chants during an international match in Bulgaria.

Police arrested two men on Monday, a 23-year-old and 26-year-old, on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault.

'Disgusting' abuse

Tom Loizou Haringey Borough v AFC Wimbledon
Haringey Borough manager Tom LoizouImage: picture-alliance/empics/N. French

Haringey's manager, Tom Loizou, took his team off the field moments after Yeovil had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the second half. The club claims objects were thrown at goalkeeper Valery Douglas Pajetat and that he was also spat at, while defender Coby Rowe claims he was racially abused. Rowe has called for Yeovil to be thrown out of the competition.

"They were swearing at me, doing signs and things like that and then someone called me a 'black c-word' and things just escalated from there," Rowe told UK broadcaster Channel 4.

"With football at most levels I feel like there's racism probably every week and I've seen it. I definitely think it's an issue that needs to be sorted out fast. I know it's not easy but I think stronger actions need to be taken against clubs."

Loizou said he had no choice but to haul his players off the pitch and praised Yeovil's manager and team for supporting their action.

"There was no way I could let him continue," Loizou said.

"If we get punished and thrown out, I don't care. The abuse a few of my players got was disgusting.

"Yeovil's players and manager were different class. Their team tried to calm their supporters down, they tried their best and they supported us. They said, 'if you're walking off, we're walking off with you'."

EM 2020 Quali | Bulgarien - England | Southgate und Rashford
Image: picture-alliance/empics/D. Klein

UEFA and FA decisions pending

Both teams are set to be included in the FA Cup first-round draw on Monday. The FA has not decided what punishment, if any, Yeovil Town will face and it could order the match to be replayed rather than disqualify Yeovil.

"There is no room for discrimination in our game and we are working with match officials and the relevant authorities, as a matter of urgency, to fully establish the facts," an FA statement said.

The incident highlights a problem that has infiltrated all levels of football worldwide following the scandal in Bulgaria, where home fans directed monkey chants at England's black footballers.

UEFA is investigating that incident and is to hand down a ruling over the next weeks.

Championship club Bristol City are also investigating reports of racist abuse during their 3-0 away defeat against Luton Town on Saturday, while Sampdoria's midfielder Ronaldo Vieira was reportedly the target of monkey chants from Roma fans in a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Janek Speight Sports reporter and editor
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A missile explodes over Kyiv, May 16, 2023
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage