Haringey Borough are well within their rights to walk off that pitch if you’re going to be insulted in that way about your race, says shocked Jermaine Jenas

Sunday 20th October 2019

HARINGEY BOROUGH manager Tom Loizou says he feels disgusted after his players’ were subject to racist abuse during their abandoned FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie against Yeovil Town yesterday.


Haringey Borough goalkeeper Valery Douglas Pajetat and captain Coby Rowe were the victims of the alleged racist abuse from individuals standing behind the goal at Coles Park, the ground of Isthmian League Premier Division side Haringey Borough.

It comes just five days after England footballers Tyrone Mings and Raheem Sterling were subject to racist abuse during an European Qualifier in Sofia when Gareth Southgate’s men thrashed Bulgaria 6-0 and threatened to walk off the pitch if the abuse continued.

Part-timers Haringey Borough did exactly that and The Football Association, both club’s, Metropolitan Police and Somerset and Avon Police are now investigating the sickening incident.

In an interview on Sky News, Loizou said: “I had to walk on the pitch and pull my players off. I don’t think the referee had any power to do anything to tell you the truth. I just walked on the pitch and I’ll have to suffer the consequences for it.

“But I know my players. I’ve had those players’ from a very young age and I saw the look in, especially Coby Rowe’s face and he’s had a difficult last couple of years and I wouldn’t allow him to be subjected to that as well.

“I can’t sit down and watch young players being abused by an minority, not the majority, it’s an minority.  There were about 200 fans behind the goal and my players were getting abuse.

“Now these were players that were playing Sunday morning football and stepped into non-league and have done very well. They’ve seen all what’s gone in and around football but for them to be involved in it and hear it 10-15 foot away from supporters, they looked frightened a couple of them and to have had missiles thrown at them as well, was disgusting!”

Yeovil Town manager Darren Sarll told BBC Radio Somerset:  “It was an allegation or acquisition of racial abuse going on towards the players of Haringey and once I was able to communicate with the coach and the manager, I just thought that the decision should be a decision far more important than any game of football or any outcome or any scoreline.

“I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything or saying anything but what I definitely knew in that moment was someone felt discriminated against.  We get a lot of abuse, footballers, managers but no one should feel discriminated against when they come to play football. It should be a place where you really enjoy it.

“For the Haringey boys it’s a love and a leisure as well as important and semi-professional to them but even to our lads who are at it every day I just thought there’s no way I would support racial discrimination and the players’ and I, we decided that we’d support and make a stand together rather than apart and just make that moment a little bit stronger with togetherness and I just felt we’ve done the right thing and I’m not going to feel anything other than proud in terms of the way the players conducted themselves.

“The rest will take care of itself. I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of questions of the game, outcome, etc etc but it ain’t really that important in the scheme of things.  I think now the governing body or the authorities take care of what they need to take care of and we’ve got a new friend in football in Haringey and we’ll work with them and work with any one we need to in order to come to the right outcome.”

Sarll was alarmed that a bottle was also thrown on to the pitch towards the Haringey keeper.

“There was definitely a bottle thrown wasn’t there.  We can’t allow that to happen!  It affects us, massively affects us.  I’m competitive, I do anything to win but there are certain levels and lines I’ll never go over.  My family brought me up better than that.

“What I didn’t want Tommy to feel is I didn’t feel like he was making a decision on his own because that’s not right.  We should be united with this goal and in our work and having a wonderful, wonderful game played up and down the country, all over the world played in good spirits and positivity attached to it and that wasn’t the case today. We fully support Haringey and they support us and we stand together.”

Loizou was in floods of tears following the shameful incident and Sarll was supportive of his opposite number, the first time the pair’s paths have crossed in football.

“There’s a lot of stress, there’s a lot of weight and pressure on Tommy there. What do you do? Do you do what everyone else has done in the world of football and carry on? I don’t think there’s many that have done what Tommy has done!

“I don’t know Tommy, but he’s obviously a wonderful man and a proper human being and a really great advocate for all levels of football and if in anyway me standing with him, us making the decision with them, release some of that burden, then I hope it did because we’re fully with them, we’re fully with them.

“I have no idea what’s gone on, my head is in an absolute spin. I’ve gone through a situation that I hoped I’d never would go through and I didn’t really know the answers to the questions if I’m honest because they don’t teach you any of this in the courses.

“But look, I don’t care about anything else. I just want Haringey, the football club and our football club to know that we don’t condone anything of that nature, if there was anything of that nature. We do not condone any of it, whether it be sexual discrimination or racial discrimination, or anything,  we don’t condone that and we’re in full support and I’ll work with Tommy, with the governing body and the football club to ensure that they get all the information that’s at our disposal.”

Rowe said on Twitter: “Can’t believe I’m tweeting this and it’s 2019 but today I was a victim of racism, in what was supposed to be a great day for Haringey Borough.  Another game of football ruined by racists.  Thanks to Yeovil Town players and staff who backed our decision to leave the pitch.”

A statement from National League Yeovil Town said: “Yeovil Town FC will be cooperating with the authorities and our friends at Haringey Borough FC regarding evens leading up to today’s fixture not being completed.

“We are aware that there are allegations that racist comments were made in the crowd and this allegation will be a key part of any investigation.

“Irrespective of the outcome of any investigations, we would like to make it clear that the club will not accept racism or discrimination in any form.”

BT Sport pundit Jermaine Jenas was fully supportive of Haringey’s players walking off the pitch when asked his thoughts on the situation in north London.

“It’s obviously terrible to hear.  We also need to look at ourselves, we’re quite easy to kind of sit on our high horses at times and point the finger at everybody else but that’s a clear indication that we still have a huge problem within our own league whether it be the Premier League or the lower leagues there is a clear issue.

“In terms of Haringey as a team, they are well within their rights to walk off that pitch if you’re going to be insulted in that way about your race then hopefully the league or The FA will deal with that in the right manner because it’s shocking!”

Mings added on Twitter: “Well done for taking a stance, sometimes it can get brushed off in lower leagues but everyone stands with you.  Our country isn’t perfect either.”

A Kick It Out statement added: “The reports relating to events at Haringey Borough in The FA Cup tie with Yeovil Town, are of alleged racist abuse aimed at their goalkeeper and yet again means players are continuing to receive discriminatory abuse while doing their job.

“The Haringey manager and players took swift and decisive action as a result of the abuse, similar to that taken by the England team out in Bulgaria.

“Kick It Out has informed The FA and will support the club in identifying the offender(s) to ensure appropriate action is taken and strong punishment issued. 

“We would also like to offer our full support to Douglas Pajetat and all at Haringey Borough FC.”