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Racism incident in England now


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From http://www.tsn.ca/soccer/news_Story.asp?ID=105551:

FA to probe Blackburn fans abuse

Associated Press


LONDON (AP) - Police and the English Football Association opened investigations Monday into racist abuse of Birmingham City striker Dwight Yorke by fans of his former club Blackburn.

The incidents, in Sunday's Premier League game at Ewood Park, came four days after England's black players were subjected to monkey chants in Madrid, Spain.

Yorke, a former Trinidad and Tobago international who joined City from Blackburn, was targeted as he warmed up on the sideline before going on the field as a substitute.

He jumped over the advertising boards and leaned into the stands to confront a fan who made monkey gestures toward him. After returning to the sideline, Yorke turned around and went back to argue with the man again.

Two other fans approached Yorke before security guards escorted the player away. A fan, whose name was not immediately released, was ejected from the ground.

Lancashire police began a criminal investigation that could lead to charges against the fans involved.

``Blackburn Rovers will co-operate fully in this matter and insist it was an isolated incident and the club deeply regrets it,'' the club said in a statement.

Birmingham manager Steve Bruce said the taunts aimed at Yorke were similar to those by Spanish fans against players at the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday.

``Dwight is bitterly upset and angry,'' Bruce said after the 3-3 tie. ``It was something similar to the racist taunts the English players had and we just don't want to see it.''

The incident is a major embarrassment to English soccer, which had claimed that racist taunting had been all but wiped out in the country.

``I was quite gratified that we have made enough progress in the last 10 years for the whole country to be outraged at what happened in Spain,'' said Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

``But they would naive to think that we've solved it completely because, of course we haven't. There's still going to be an element there so, from that point of view, we keep going.''

The FA and anti-racist groups complained to FIFA about the incidents in last Wednesday's Spain-England game in Madrid and demanded tough sanctions against the Spaniards.

Now the FA has to deal with something that took place on home turf.

``Our position at present is that we are still establishing the facts and we hope to speak to all interested parties today,'' FA spokesman Adrian Bevington said.

Both Blackburn and Birmingham will hold their own investigations into the incidents, which were captured by TV cameras.

``Personally I feel physically sick when things like that happen,'' Bruce said. ``We all get stick in the game, and fans pay hard-earned money to have a go at their former players.

``But something like this spoils it for everyone else. That's the last thing we should be seeing on an English football ground.''

British Sports Minister Richard Caborn condemned the incidents and called on players to report such behavior to police.

``This seems to be an isolated incident, but it is still unacceptable behaviour,'' he said.

Birmingham City's managing director Karen Brady said: ``Hopefully there will be a criminal investigation because racism is absolutely awful and everyone wants to stamp it out of the game totally.''

FIFA is investigating the incidents in Madrid when Spanish fans aimed monkey chants at black England stars Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jermain Defoe and Ashley Cole in Spain's 1-0 victory at the Bernabeu Stadium.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he would have supported English players if they had walked off the field in protest.

``I was shocked and I am still shocked at what happened,'' he said in a BBC radio interview Sunday. ``I am sad at this new expression of racism in a stadia that has been a temple of football and I cannot understand that.''

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