FA Cup tie between Haringey Borough and Yeovil abandoned after alleged racism
Haringey boss: "The players were tearful, red-eyed and welling up. I was distraught having to see the expressions on my players' faces. It was all too much for them to take."
Last Updated: 20/10/19 12:12pm
The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil was abandoned on Saturday after the players walked off the pitch due to alleged racist abuse.
Haringey's goalkeeper Valery Douglas Pajetat said he was spat at, struck by a bottle and subjected to racist abuse, before his team-mate, Cobie Rowe, was also allegedly targeted by racist chants.
The Met Police and FA are investigating the allegations. No arrests have been made.
The match was abandoned in the 64th minute after Haringey's manager Tom Loizou took the decision to remove his players, who he said looked "disturbed and frightened".
"The players were tearful, red-eyed and welling up," Loizou told Sky News.
"I was distraught having to see the expressions on my players' faces. It was all too much for them to take."
Asked about his decision to take his players off, he continued "I said to the ref, 'I've heard that the players are getting racially abused, I've seen with my own eyes that they've been spat at, I've seen the anger in some of their fans' faces and I've seen the missiles come on to the pitch'."
Loizou said the abuse was only from a minority of Yeovil fans - "half a dozen disgusting human beings" - and that it felt like "someone coming into your house and racially abusing you and attacking you".
"We see it all around us, we see it on the TV, we see it on the streets and we've had problems with it in the past," he added. "When I saw the look on my players' faces I had no choice, I had to take them off.
"My concerns are the safety my players and the damage it has done to my young players. It's not the first time it's happened, it was just a frightening experience for these players."
Yeovil manager Darren Sarll followed suit by taking his players off the pitch "to make a stand together".
Both sides returned to the pitch after the game had been abandoned to shake hands with each other and applaud the fans.
Metropolitan Police investigating
The Met Police have announced that they are investigating reports of racist comments made during the match. There have been no arrests but their enquiries are continuing.
The FA released a statement condemning the abuse at Coles Park, which said: "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."
Yeovil issued their own statement on Saturday evening, which read: "Yeovil Town FC will be cooperating with the authorities and our friends at Haringey Borough FC regarding events leading up to today's fixture not being completed.
"We are aware that there are allegations that racist comments were made in the crowd and this allegation will be a key part of any investigation. Irrespective of the outcome of any investigations, we would like to make it clear that the club will not accept racism or discrimination in any form.
"The club will be making no further comment until the current investigations are completed."
'Our safety wasn't promised'
Rowe, who Loizou said was one of the players that was racially abused, took to Twitter to confirm his manager's comments.
The tweet said: "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 captain Rakim Richards says that his and his team-mates' "safety wasn't promised" as some Yeovil fans allegedly hurled missiles onto the pitch.
"There was a lot of racial chants and slurs from the Yeovil fans to our players. There was one or two individuals that suffered the most but, as a team, it affects us all," he told Sky Sports News.
"It was a horrible, horrible thing to be a part of. It's the kind of stuff you see on TV and to be a part of it, it's hard to digest.
"You have to put the safety of the players into action and into play. Our safety wasn't promised from the referee and it's hard to stop people like that throwing bottles and missiles.
"It's unacceptable, one hundred percent. That kind of behaviour, you can't have that anywhere. That has to be eradicated. I don't know how though."
Kick It Out response
Kick It Out praised the "swift and decisive action" taken by the Loizou and his players, comparing their response to that of the England team in this week's European Qualifier in Bulgaria.
A Kick It Out statement on Twitter said: "The reports relating to events at Haringey Borough FC this afternoon, in The FA Cup tie with Yeovil Town, are of alleged racist abuse aimed at their goalkeeper, [Valery] Douglas Pajetat, 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.
"We would also like to offer our full support to Douglas and all at Haringey Borough FC."
1/3— Kick It Out (@kickitout) October 19, 2019
The reports relating to events at Haringey Borough FC this afternoon, in The FA Cup tie with Yeovil Town, are of alleged racist abuse aimed at their goalkeeper, Douglas Pajetat, and yet again means players are continuing to receive discriminatory abuse while doing their job.
Troy Townsend, Kick It Out's Head of Development, told Sky Sports News that racism at non-League level is not "uncommon" and that a protocol is not enough to stop fans from repeatedly offending.
He said: "Most people at this level will tell you that these situations and events are not uncommon and they've experienced them quite a lot at the non-League level Haringey play at.
"Haringey and Yeovil have done the right thing. They've made a stand. Enough is enough. The process that they're going to go through has to be gone through with the severest possible punishment.
"I'm not sure if there's a protocol at our level of the game but, to be honest with you, why should players have to wait [to walk off the pitch]?
"It's like you're handing out yellow cards and warning to fans who will take this to the limit."
"I'm proud of the way the players conducted themselves"
Yeovil manager Darren Sarll says that he is "proud" of the way his players reacted after the incident, while also showing his support for the Haringey players.
He said: "There's no way I'd support racial discrimination, and the players and I decided that we'd support and make a stand together, rather than apart.
"We wanted to make that moment stronger with togetherness. I felt like we've done the right thing and I'm not going to feel anything other than proud of the way the players conducted themselves."
Support from Premier League players
Aston Villa and England defender Tweeted his support for the Haringey players: 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."
Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling took to social media to express his support for the Haringey players with a brief Tweet saying: "More of this" in reference to a Sky Sports News tweet breaking the news of the Haringey players decision to walk off.