Manchester City Under-21s walk off pitch after alleged racist abuse by opponent
Manchester City are to pursue talks with the Croatian Football Association on Wednesday after the club’s under-21 team walked off the pitch during the first half of a friendly against HNK Rijeka following alleged racial abuse towards the French midfielder Seko Fofana.
Patrick Vieira, the coach of City’s elite development squad, is understood to have sanctioned the decision to withdraw the players from the pitch in Novigrad after discussions with coaching staff and club officials.
Fofana, 19, was sent off for retaliating to alleged comments made by a Rijeka player, an incident which prompted the walk-off. In a statement issued following the game on Tuesday night, City said: “Manchester City’s EDS under-21 game with HNK Rijeka has today been cancelled due to an alleged incident of racial abuse toward the club’s young midfielder, Seko Fofana by a member of the opposing team.
“Following an alleged incident in the latter stages of the first half, a decision was taken by the management staff to withdraw the City team from the field of play and cancel the game. Club representatives in Croatia and in Manchester are liaising with officials, the match organisers and the Croatian Football Association to pursue this matter further.”
It was the fourth episode of racism towards City players in recent years. In February 2012, former City forward Mario Balotelli was the victim of racial abuse during a Europa League tie against FC Porto in Portugal, which led to the home team being fined £16,700 by Uefa.
Uefa also punished CSKA Moscow last October following racist chanting directed towards Yaya Touré during a Champions League fixture in the Russian capital. CSKA were fined £42,800 and ordered to close a section of the Khimki Arena.
Manchester City's EDS U21 game with HNK Rijeka has today been cancelled due to an alleged incident of racial abuse… (1/6)— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) July 22, 2014
This March, EDS forward Devante Cole was allegedly spat at and subjected to racial abuse during a Uefa Youth League fixture against Atlético Madrid in Spain. Atlético were fined €10,000 (£7,900) by Uefa and ordered to partially close their youth stadium.
The City hierarchy are in Kansas City on the first leg of the club’s summer tour of the United States, but efforts will be made on Wednesday to fully establish the events surrounding the incident involving Fofana in Croatia.
HNK Rijeka issued a statement on their website: “Manchester City coach Patrick Vieira entered the field, something was discussed with the referee, and then to the amazement of a well-filled stadium he took his team off the pitch. What are the reasons? They are known only to him.”