Haringey players were left “disgusted” and “distraught” by alleged racist abuse they suffered in their abandoned FA Cup clash with Yeovil, according to a former Borough defender who attended the game.
The fourth qualifying round match at Coles Park saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty, and a subsequent post on Haringey’s official Twitter account said it had been abandoned following racist abuse.
Haringey manager Tom Loizou said defender Coby Rowe suffered racist abuse by a small minority of supporters while goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat was also spat at and had missiles thrown at him.
The Football Association has launched an investigation, with the Metropolitan Police also looking into the allegations, and Yeovil have said they will cooperate with the authorities.
Former Haringey left-back Michael O’Donoghue was at the game and went into the dressing room with the team when they came off.
The 23-year-old, who played for Borough for three-and-a-half years before leaving last season to join Concord Rangers, told the PA news agency: “As soon as Yeovil were awarded their penalty you could see that something was going on between Valery (Pajetat) and the Yeovil fans.
“This led to the referee trying to defuse the situation and a few Yeovil players going over to their fans to try to calm them down.
Sorry for the late update but wanted to make sure we gave correct information.— Haringey Borough FC (@HaringeyBoroFC) October 19, 2019
“It settled down a bit and the penalty was taken and scored. As soon as they scored it was starting to kick off again and you could see the Haringey players were getting abused and felt unsettled.
“The referee was seen removing the bottles thrown at the players and then the managers of both teams went on and escorted their teams off the pitch.
“I went into the changing room with the boys, the referee called in both captains and managers to have a talk about what to do next. The boys made a group decision to make a stand and not go back out to play.
“The officials and Yeovil manager came into the Haringey changing room and said they will back whatever decision the Haringey boys made, so that was class from them.
“The boys were disgusted and you could see a few were distraught from getting abused like that.”
Loizou told Sky Sports News with regard to taking his players off: “There was no way that two or three of those players could have continued playing. What they heard was disgusting, they looked frightened.”
Rowe wrote on Twitter: “Can’t believe I’m tweeting this and it’s 2019 but today I was a victim of racism, in what was supposed to be a great day for @HaringeyBoroFC. Another game of football ruined by racists.”
The FA said in its statement on the matter that it was “deeply concerned” about the allegation and was looking into the incident “as a matter of urgency”.
It came just five days after England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria that was halted twice as fans were warned about racist behaviour.
England forward Raheem Sterling retweeted a news report about the Haringey players walking off and posted the message “more of this”, accompanied by two hands clapping emojis.
Tyrone Mings, targeted in Bulgaria on what was his England debut, also expressed his support, tweeting: “Well done for taking a stance, sometimes it can get brushed off in lower leagues but everyone stands with you. Our country isn’t perfect either.”
The football anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out praised the “swift and decisive action” taken by Loizou and his players.
Kick It Out said in a statement: “The reports relating to events at Haringey Borough…are of alleged racist abuse, and yet again means players are continuing to receive discriminatory abuse while doing their job.
“The Haringey manager and players took swift and decisive action as a result of the abuse, similar to that taken by the England team out in Bulgaria just five days ago.
“Kick It Out has informed the FA and will support the club in identifying the offender(s) to ensure appropriate action is taken and strong punishment issued.”
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