Saturday 24 August 2019

Rivals unite to condemn fans over Salah abuse


Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah

John Percy and Chris Bascombe

Jurgen Klopp has called for lifetime stadium bans for those guilty of racially abusing Mohamed Salah as Liverpool and Chelsea united in their condemnation.

Manager Maurizio Sarri pleaded with supporters to observe the minute's silence when the clubs meet at Anfield tomorrow.

Olivier Giroud insisted the fans who inflicted further damage on Chelsea's reputation in Prague on Thursday "don't belong to the club" as Liverpool manager Klopp described their actions as "disgusting".

Three fans were prevented from entering Slavia Prague's Eden Arena before the Europa League quarter-final by Chelsea security, after footage emerged on social media of the group singing a vile song about Salah. Furious Stamford Bridge officials have warned that any further disturbances will lead to the "strongest possible action".

At the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in 2012, a minute's silence to pay respect to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster was cut short after a section of Chelsea fans jeered and booed.

Tomorrow's game at Anfield will be emotionally charged ahead of the 30th anniversary of the tragedy, and Chelsea striker Giroud insisted there cannot be a repeat.

"Nowadays one time is one too much. These guys don't belong to Chelsea. Obviously we condemn this type of thing," he said. "It was a very small minority. We are proud of most of our fans."

Chelsea have been involved in a number of other racism controversies this season. When asked if tomorrow's game was a chance to restore the club's pride, Sarri said: "Yes, I think so. It is really a very good opportunity for our fans. I am sure that our fans will have very great behaviour in Liverpool."

Chelsea are still reviewing video footage of the incident, in an effort to identify the other three fans involved. All six are facing bans, with the length still to be determined.

Yesterday they released a statement reminding fans to observe the planned minute's silence or face punishment.

"The actions of a mindless and unwanted minority in Prague has once again brought a spotlight upon Chelsea supporters, embarrassing the club and their fellow fans.

"It is our expectation that this will not be repeated in Liverpool, and where there is evidence of any inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour, we will take the strongest possible action."

Klopp praised Chelsea's zero tolerance stance on the issue and denounced bigots who he says have no place in the multi-cultural football community.

"It's disgusting, another example of something which absolutely should not happen," Klopp said. "We should not see it as a Chelsea thing or a Liverpool thing. It's another sign that something is going wrong a little bit out there. It's still only a few people doing it, but the stronger the reaction is from all of us, the more it will help to avoid things like this in the future. If you do something like that, you should not be able to enter a stadium again in your life."

Meanwhile, Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has described the latest incidents of racist abuse in football as "really painful" as he urged the sport to find a way of removing the scourge from the game.

Aubameyang was racially abused when a Tottenham fan threw a banana skin at him during the north London derby in December. Arsenal are investigating a video circulating on social media which appeared to show one of their supporters racially insulting Kalidou Koulibaly, the Napoli defender. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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