The manager of an English football team that walked off the pitch following allegations of racist abuse from supporters says those fans found guilty should be “banned for life.”
Two men have been arrested by police after investigations into racist comments made during an English FA Cup match between Haringey Borough FC and Yeovil Town on Saturday.
The men – aged 23 and 26 – were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault and are both in custody at a police station in Somerset.
Metropolitan Police officers are leading the investigation with the assistance of Avon and Somerset police.
“There’s no room in society for people like this,” Haringey manager Tom Loizou told CNN Sport’s Kate Riley. “The way they made a few of our players feel, there’s no room for these type of people in any kind of sport, not just football.”
Haringey’s goalkeeper, Valery Douglas Pajetat, was reportedly spat at and hit by an object thrown from the Yeovil Town end.
The game was abandoned after Haringey manager Loizou led his team, which was trailing 1-0, off the field in the 64th minute following the abuse.
In the face of a difficult situation, Louizo, after having some time to reflect on the situation, believes he did “the right thing.”
“(A few weeks ago) there was something going on with Paul Pogba and he urged players to walk off if they got racially abused,” he said. “When I got asked this question four weeks ago, I said there was no way I would walk off the pitch with my players and let these people win.
“Now three, four weeks later, I’ve contradicted everything I’ve said and done a complete U-turn. It was something that happened at the time and I felt I had to act.
“I’m still mentally and physically drained because of what happened. I haven’t had a lot of sleep. I still thinks there’s a lot that needs to be done but I’m glad I did what I did with my players. I protected my players. We’ve had a lot of support from everybody, from other football clubs, friends and family.”
Haringey and Yeovil were playing in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, with the winner set to progress to the first round proper.
Last season, non-league side Haringey was knocked out in the first round, but Loizou admits all that goodwill seems “worthless” after the incident against Yeovil.
And the Haringey manager admits his decision to lead the players off the pitch has left some uncertainty around his side’s future involvement in this year’s FA Cup.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “There might even be the chance that we get thrown out for my actions taking players off of the pitch.”
The Football Association (FA) said on Saturday that it was also investigating the incident and was “deeply concerned” over the events at Haringey’s Coles Park Stadium.
“There is no room for discrimination in our game and we are working with the match officials and the relevant authorities, as a matter of urgency, to fully establish the facts and take the appropriate steps.”
Following the abandonment, Yeovil manager, Darren Sarll, said both clubs had decided “to make a stand together.”
“I guess there will be a lot of questions about the game and the outcome, but it isn’t really that important,” he told the club’s YouTube channel. “We’ve got a new friend in football in Haringey and we’ll work with them and anyone else to come to the right decision.”
The incident comes just five days after England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria, which was halted twice due to racist abuse aimed at some of England’s players.