West Bromwich Albion’s Jonathan Leko has accused the Professional Footballers’ Association and ‘leading anti-racism bodies’ of failing to support him after he was racially abused.
Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was given an eight-match ban after he was found to have used a racial slur towards the forward while he was playing for Charlton Athletic in a Championship match back in September.
Casilla initially denied the charge but an independent regulatory commission found the breach proven.
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The Spaniard was also fined £60,000 and ordered to attend face-to-face education.
Now Leko, speaking for the first time since the verdict was handed down, has called on football’s governing bodies to do more when such incidents are reported.
“I am naturally relieved that the process is now complete and the FA have upheld what I have always known to be true – that I was racially abused by Kiko Casilla in a manner which shocked me and still angers and upsets me to this day,” he said in a statement given to the club’s website.
“I have been disappointed with the amount of time it has taken to reach this point. Knowing what occurred in the game that day, it has been difficult to watch Kiko Casilla continue to play for such a lengthy period as if nothing had happened.
“I would urge the game’s governing bodies to look into their own processes when such incidents are reported. It was 22 weeks between the incident and the hearing during which I had minimal contact from the PFA, of which I am a member, and no contact in the way of support from leading anti-racism bodies such as ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism The Red Card’. Some support or guidance would have been very welcome.
“By bringing the incident to the referee’s attention immediately, I was only doing what I have been educated to do throughout my career. But I found the hearing, at which I was made to feel I had done something wrong, extremely stressful.
“It made me question whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future. I certainly would think twice about how to advise another player placed in the same situation.
“From the outset, all I have done is report something that had to be challenged and exposed for what it is – racial abuse. I now want to put the episode behind me and concentrate on recovering from my injury to be ready for next season.”
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