Man City abandon friendly as star player is racially abused
Patrick Vieira's Under-21 side walks off against Croatian team HNK Rijeka over alleged racial abuse
A pre-season friendly in Croatia ended with Manchester City's Under-21 side walking off after allegedly suffering racial abuse. According to the Daily Telegraph the incident happened during the first half of the Sky Blues match against HNK Rijeka on Tuesday when French 19-year-old midfielder Seko Fofana was shown a red card after "retaliating to alleged comments made by a Rijeka player".
Former Arsenal and France star Patrick Vieira, the coach of City's elite development squad, is understood to have approved the decision to withdraw the players from the pitch after what the Telegraph describes as "discussions with coaching staff and club officials".
City later published a statement on their official website in which they said: "Following an alleged incident in the latter stages of the first half of the game, being played in Novigrad, Croatia, a decision was taken by the management staff to withdraw the City team from the field of play and cancel the game. Club representatives in Croatia and in Manchester are liaising with officials, the match organisers and the Croatian Football Association to pursue this matter further."
If the allegations are true Fofana, a France Under-18 international who joined the club from Lorient last year, is the latest in a growing list of City players to have been racially abused in recent seasons. Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure have both been subjected to bigoted chants from FC Porto and CSKA Moscow fans with the latter fined £42,800 and ordered to close a section of the Khimki Arena following a Champions League tie.
Though City are reportedly working with Rijeka to resolve the issue, the Croatian club issued a statement of their own in which they expressed their bemusement at the English side's actions. "Manchester City coach Patrick Vieira entered the field, something was discussed with the referee, and then to the amazement of a well-filled stadium he took his team off the pitch. What are the reasons? They are known only to him."
Manchester City's first team squad and officials are currently in a pre-season tour of the United States but the Telegraph says efforts will be made on Wednesday "to fully establish the events surrounding the incident involving Fofana in Croatia" before deciding whether to take the matter further.