Tottenham trio on receiving end of alleged racist abuse
Three of Tottenham Hotspur’s black players were allegedly subjected to racist abuse from a section of the travelling Lazio support during the 0-0 Europa League draw between the clubs at White Hart Lane yesterday night.
In front of the Uefa president, Michel Platini, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and the substitute Andros Townsend were the targets of monkey chants when they ventured in front of the enclosure containing 1,500 Lazio fans.
The flashpoints followed the news that the Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi had deleted his Twitter account after he was racially abused by users on the site. The Nigerian removed his profile less than 24 hours after his mistake played a part in Juventus’s equaliser in the 2-2 Champions League draw at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have contacted the police.
The monkey chants at White Hart Lane were first audible when Defoe crashed into the advertising hoarding below the visiting supporters early in the second half. The striker had lost the ball and, before he got to his feet, he kicked the hoardings hard. The anti-racism group Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) posted a link on its Twitter feed giving Spurs fans the chance to report any chants they heard.
André Villas-Boas, the Tottenham manager, said he did not hear the chants but added he would expect Uefa to act if his club saw fit to complain formally.
“I think so,” Villas-Boas said. “Uefa is very active on this kind of situation. Our overall objective is to kick racism out of football but I can’t point the finger in any way or form because I didn’t hear anything. I wasn’t aware of anything as I was focused on the game. I haven’t heard anything from the players, too.”
Lennon said that he had heard nothing, even though it was clearly audible that a minority of the Lazio supporters were not merely booing the Tottenham players. It was unclear whether Tottenham would take the matter further.
Chelsea do want action taken over the treatment of Mikel. The club had originally claimed it was coincidental that the Nigerian, who said he was unaware of any abuse, had deleted the ‘Mikel12Official’ account he set up this summer but they later said in a statement: “We’ve been made aware of racist tweets targeted at Mikel which are totally unacceptable, disgusting and abhorrent. We’ve informed the police and support taking the strongest possible action.”
After the match against Juventus, Mikel had acknowledged his error. The 25-year-old gave the ball away before he and his team-mates failed to prevent Claudio Marchisio playing Fabio Quagliarella into space for the equaliser.
Mikel said: “If I want to make up an excuse, I can. But, for me, I gave the ball away. I put my hands up. We move on. I’m sorry about the mistake.”
From the Guardian