Monday 18 November 2019

I'd walk off pitch if a team-mate was abused - Doherty

Matt Doherty. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Matt Doherty. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Nick Mashiter

Ireland and Wolves full-back Matt Doherty has questioned whether Slovan Bratislava's punishment for the racist behaviour of the club's supporters is sufficient but backed UEFA to combat racism more widely in the long run.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side face Slovan on Thursday with the hosts having already been sanctioned by the governing body this season - hit with a two-game stadium closure due to racist chants and a banner at a Europa League play-off game against PAOK in August.

Slovan, who played Besiktas in front of 6,000 children last month, have exploited a UEFA loophole for Thursday's game and gifted 21,000 tickets, mostly to under-14s. Wolves fans have been allocated just 200 and Doherty queried UEFA's stance in this instance.

"I guess if it's behind closed doors it's meant to be nobody in the stadium," he said. "If it's a full house you're not getting punished fully.

"You have to leave it in their (UEFA) hands and trust what they are doing.

"They are trying to deal with it all the time. It (racism) is happening way more than anyone would like or should have to deal with.

"I haven't experienced it first hand, as in being on the pitch at the same time, but I trust the authorities and the process they are going to do the right job, which I think they will do in the end."

The 27-year-old also admitted he would consider walking off the pitch if his team-mates were targeted. "If the players feel uncomfortable being on the pitch and can all agree on that process, I wouldn't have a problem with it," he said.

"I would hate to be in that position. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but I would be in more of the mind to beat them on the pitch and shut them up that way."

Nuno added a strong voice against racism and hopes the youngsters in attendance at the National Football Stadium will learn a valuable lesson.

"It's never enough (punishment) until we can stop it, nothing is enough," he said.

Slovan Bratislava v Wolves
Live, Virgin Media Extra 1, 5.55

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