Liverpool hit by new racism row
Published 22:20 06/01/12 By David Maddock
Liverpool have been thrust into another racism controversy, after fans were accused of racially abusing Oldham player Tom Adeyemi.
Police launched an immediate investigation into the incident, which occurred towards the end of the FA Cup tie, when the young full-back turned to confront the supporter after becoming visibly upset at comments hurled from the terraces.
Immediately following the game, the 20-year-old Norwich-born defender gave a statement to police, in which it is understood he claimed to have been the subject of racist comments.
Adeyemi was visibly upset, and seemed to be in tears. Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard moved across to the Kop End of the ground where the incident occurred, and comforted him.
Eyewitnesses saw two fans wearing Luis Suarez t-shirts, and heard one of them clearly shout “You f***ing black b***ard”.
Police immediately moved in to restrain the two suspects, and later confirmed a formal investigation.
A statement from Merseyside police read: “Merseyside Police can confirm that no one has been arrested this evening (Friday, 6 January) on suspicion of racially aggravated behaviour during tonight’s FA Cup fixture at Anfield.
”However, the Force and Liverpool Football Club are investigating following an incident that occurred during the second half of the game. The aim of the investigation is to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident to ascertain if any action needs to be taken.”
One eyewitness, who later gave evidence to Liverpool officials and the police, said: “I was standing to the right of the Kop End, and the number 11 (Adeyemi) turned to walk away after a tackle. I heard a single voice behind me shout 'You f***ing black b***ard.'
“He spun round with shock on his face and started pointing at the crowd, from where the shout had come.”
Match referee Neil Swarbrick held up play for more than two minutes to talk to the defender, and both Gerrard and Reds striker Dirk Kuyt spoke to the official and their opponent.
The two fans who appeared to be at the centre of the controversy had been animated all evening, though another eyewitness at the game later made a statement on Twitter where he said he was stood next to the supporters and they “called the Oldham player a Manc b***ard”.
A senior Liverpool figure explained afterwards that stewards were immediately on the scene, and he said: “We will do everything in our power to investigate the matter and ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
The incident could not have come at a worst time for the club, following the controversy that has raged over the Suarez affair, who was banned for eight matches for racist abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
The FA are now sure to investigate, and Liverpool could face sanctions for failing to control their supporters.
Afterwards, Adeyemi was told by his club not to speak about the incident, but Oldham manager Paul Dickov said the player was acutely upset.
“I have not had the chance to speak to Tom about it. But I will say I know the kid and something has been said. He is a placid boy who has been well educated, for whatever difference that makes, and has a fantastic temperament,” he said.
”He has been with us since the end of August and I never really seen him raise his voice, which I wish he would do sometimes, especially on a football pitch. So for him to react like that it’s obvious that something has been said, but exactly what I don’t know what.”