"Neil was shook up a little bit after the game, quite rightly so" - Birmingham manager John Eustace has revealed how goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was visibly upset after alleged racist incident in FA Cup tie at Blackburn Rovers
Monday 30 January 2023 16:43, UK
Birmingham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was left "shook up" after reporting an alleged racist incident in Saturday's FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers.
Etheridge reported an 'incident of racism' to the referee Keith Stroud after Jordan James snatched a late equaliser for Birmingham in stoppage time of the 2-2 draw with Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Sky Sports News understands the alleged abuse came from a home supporter behind Etheridge's goal.
Stroud delayed the restart and spoke to the head coaches, with Birmingham boss John Eustace revealing how the Philippines international goalkeeper was visibly upset after the tie.
"Neil was racially abused which is bang out of order," Eustace said.
"There's no room for any racism in society, let alone in football. We're really disappointed that's happened. As a football club we don't condone it at all and we're fully behind him.
"The referee will report it and further action will be taken from there. It's a very, very serious issue.
"Neil was shook up a little bit after the game, quite rightly so. The lads got right around him and made sure he's OK and we'll speak to him when we get on the bus and see how he is.
"The referee will report it first and foremost and it will be up to Blackburn as a club to deal with the situation."
Blackburn released a club statement which read: "Blackburn Rovers is aware of allegations of racist abuse reported to the match officials by Birmingham City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge during today's FA Cup fourth round tie at Ewood Park.
"Referee Keith Stroud notified the players and managers of both clubs of the alleged incident, which will now be fully investigated by Blackburn Rovers and the relevant authorities.
"Allegations of this nature are taken extremely seriously.
"The club has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of abuse and discrimination, and will take the strongest possible action against any individuals identified for committing such offences."
Birmingham also released a statement which read: "The club can confirm that during the second half of Saturday's Emirates FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers, after the game's fourth goal, Neil Etheridge reported an incident of racism to the referee.
"This will be included in the official's match report and the club will assist the FA and the authorities accordingly.
"Blues gives its full support to Neil. There is no room for racism in the game.
"No further comment will be made at this time."
An FA spokesperson said: "We are aware of an alleged incident of racial abuse that was reported to the match official during the Emirates FA Cup match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Birmingham City FC.
"We take all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and we will be investigating as a matter of urgency, working with the clubs and the relevant authorities."
The matter was subsequently referred to Lancashire Police, who are now investing and appealing for witnesses and mobile phone footage to assist with their ongoing enquiries.
PC Dan Fish said: "We take all matters of this nature extremely seriously and Lancashire Police will not tolerate hate of any form.
"As part of our enquiries, we are asking for witnesses or anybody with mobile phone footage covering the Blackburn End of the stadium following Birmingham City's equaliser to contact us."
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