Spartak accused of racism again after Reds U-19 game
Liverpool's Champions League tie with Spartak Moscow had an extra edge last night after the club accused the Russian side of racism for the second time this season.
Yet again, a formal complaint revolved around a meeting of the clubs in their Uefa Youth League tie, with teenage striker Rhian Brewster alleging he was the subject of racist abuse from a Spartak defender.
Earlier this season, Spartak fans were found guilty of racially abusing another Liverpool youth player.
Liverpool's 2-0 win over Spartak in the U-19 league ended in angry scenes, with Brewster needing to be restrained by team-mates Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Liam Millar and Curtis Jones after being upset by a comment from an opponent.
The teenager, part of England U-17s' recent World Cup success, was distressed following the on-field conversation with the Spartak player.
When the incident occurred in the second half, Brewster informed the referee, Mohammed Al-Hakim, and was then directed to the fourth official on the sidelines, who noted his complaint.
But the player remained unhappy for the remainder of the second half.
Coaching staff also tried to calm down the 17-year-old at the end of the match, played at Tranmere Rovers's Prenton Park.
The players did not shake hands after the final whistle, most quickly heading for the tunnel.
Brewster appeared to be seeking out the player he considered to be the perpetrator.
Steven Gerrard, the team's manager, tried to settle down the youngster and academy director Alex Inglethorpe was involved in a conversation with the referee.
Gerrard confirmed the club were looking into the matter.
"It's difficult for me to comment on it right now. It's something that the club will look into and deal with," he said.
Liverpool confirmed they were following procedure by reporting the incident to UEFA. This followed discussions with Brewster to establish what had happened.
The UEFA representative at the fixture will now file a report before the governing body determines if there is cause for an investigation.
There was already bad blood between the teams following the reverse fixture last September, after which Spartak were charged and found guilty of racist behaviour.
On that occasion, it was Russian supporters who were accused.
They had targeted Liverpool winger Bobby Adenkanye by making monkey chants and the visiting coaching staff reported their distaste to UEFA officials at the time.
Although Spartak were charged, investigated and subsequently found guilty, the punishment was lenient.
UEFA ordered Spartak to close part of their academy stadium - amounting to 500 seats - and display a banner backing the European governing body's anti-discrimination campaign.
They were also punished for setting off fireworks in the senior match in Moscow last September.
Anti-Racism group Kick It Out said last night: "Should the Spartak Moscow player be found guilty, the club must receive a far stronger punishment if Europe's governing body is truly serious about ensuring that football is an 'equal game'.
"It is also extremely concerning to this organisation that yet another incident of racism has taken place involving a Russian club, particularly ahead of the 2018 World Cup."(© Daily Telegraph, London)