Raheem Sterling has led support for Haringey Borough’s decision to walk off the pitch during their FA Cup tie against Yeovil Town after reports of racist abuse towards their players.
Haringey manager Tom Loizou took the decision to withdraw his team after 64 minutes of the fourth-round qualifying match, leading to the clash being abandoned .
Loizou said that Coby Rowe was targeted by racial abuse from a small number of Yeovil fans, while Haringey’s Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Douglas Pajetat was also reportedly spat at and hit by an object from the away end.
The Football Association said it was “deeply concerned” about the allegation of discrimination at the FA Cup tie and has launched an investigation into the incident.
A statement released by the governing body read: “We are deeply concerned about the allegation of discrimination from an area of the crowd towards a player during the FA Cup fourth round qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town, which resulted in the fixture being abandoned.
“There is no room for discrimination in our game and we are working with the match officials and the relevant authorities, as a matter of urgency, to fully establish the facts and take the appropriate steps.”
The incident came just days after England’s EURO 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria was stopped twice due to racist actions from home supporters in Sofia.
And Raheem Sterling, one of the Three Lions players to be subjected to abuse during that match, was among those to voice his support for the Haringey players’ decision to the walk off the pitch.
The Manchester City forward retweeted the announcement of the abandoned match and commented: “More of this”.
When questioned by a user why he decided to continue playing in Bulgaria instead of walking off, Sterling added: “WE decided as a team and group to stay and fight for our pride.
“We made a statement with the scoresheet and several after the game, and effective decisions were taken.
“I think it was right solution… you can’t walk off every time, sadly.”
He continued in separate reply: “More actions, whatever they are, against racism will always be better than just let it go.”
Meanwhile, Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings, who was also among those subjected to racist abuse during his international debut, also praised the decision to walk off the pitch and reinforced that English football still has a racism problem it must address.
“Well done for taking a stance,” the 26-year-old tweeted . “Sometimes it can get brushed off in lower leagues but everyone stands with you.
“Our country isn’t perfect either.”
In addition to the FA investigation, the Metropolitan Police also confirmed they are looking into the allegations from the FA Cup tie and Yeovil have stated that they will fully co-operate with the authorities .
The incident flared while Rhys Murphy was preparing to take a penalty for the visitors in 64th minute and the players left the pitch shortly after the spot kick had been converted.
Rowe, who was seen to react angrily and had to be restrained by security staff while both sides walked off, later took to social media to confirm he had been targeted.
He tweeted: “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.
“Thanks to YTFC players and staff who backed our decision to leave the pitch.”
Haringey boss Loizou labelled the scenes “very distressing” and claimed he doesn’t care if they get thrown out of the competition.
Loizou told BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s very distressing. The abuse a few of my players got was disgusting.
“We’ve worked hard all week, had a great experience in the FA Cup last season and a silly two minutes has taken everything away from us.
“It wasn’t consistent throughout the game. They got a penalty and as they were lining up to take it, my goalkeeper got spat at and had a bottle thrown at him.
“The referee managed to calm things down, they took the penalty and then my number six – Coby Rowe – got called names. He got racially abused and there was no way I could let him continue.
“The FA Cup’s not worth that much to us. We are never going to win it.
“Good luck to Yeovil Town if we get punished and thrown out, all be it, I don’t care.”