19 December 2021

FA investigates alleged racist abuse directed at Arsenal’s bench by Leeds United fan

19 December 2021

The Football Association is investigating the alleged racist abuse directed at Arsenal’s bench by a Leeds fan during Saturday’s Premier League game, the PA news agency understands.

Referee Andre Marriner halted play in the 34th minute to consult with match officials after the incident had been reported and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta confirmed after the game that some unnamed substitutes had been targeted.

Leeds condemned the abuse following their 4-1 defeat and said in a statement that one arrest had been made in relation to the incident.

Referee Andre Marriner spoke with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and fourth official John Brooks after alleged racist abuse was aimed at Arsenal’s bench (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

The West Yorkshire club said: “Leeds United can confirm that an investigation into claims of racism during the first half of our game with Arsenal today is underway, and that one arrest has been made in connection to the allegation.

“Racism will not be tolerated at Leeds United and any supporter found to be using racist language will be subject to a lifetime ban for all Leeds United games.”

Arsenal took full advantage against a depleted Leeds side shorn of 10 senior players to secure a comfortable 4-1 win and consolidate their place in the top four.

Gabriel Martinelli fired a first-half double and Bukayo Saka made it 3-0 at half-time before Leeds, fearful of another thrashing after 7-0 defeat at Manchester City in midweek, improved after the break.

Racism will not be tolerated at Leeds United and any supporter found to be using racist language will be subject to a lifetime ban for all Leeds United games

Raphinha converted a 75th-minute penalty for Leeds, but substitute Emile Smith Rowe’s late effort capped an impressive Arsenal display, which was marred by football’s latest racist incident.

Arteta said after the game: “Yes, unfortunately I can confirm that. It was reported to the stadium manager. The authorities will deal with that.

“The players that were sitting on the bench. One of those heard those comments.

“I don’t know exactly (which player) it was, that’s why they will have to be interviewed by the authorities.”

Arteta was delighted with the fast-improving Martinelli, whose third goal in two games – and his fourth of the season – helped the Gunners to a third straight league win.

“He’s come a long, long way because his energy, his passion, his commitment, it doesn’t get much better than that ever,” Arteta said.

“But there are other aspects in the game that he’s had to develop and maintain the ones that he’s exceptional at, like today, because when he has chances he puts them away. Again, he’s in the right direction.”

Leeds’ eighth league defeat of the season came as no surprise to most of their fans, who have seen an ever-increasing injury list undermine their side’s season.

Leeds included 15-year-old Archie Gray, front, the great-nephew of Eddie Gray, on their bench (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Marcelo Bielsa gave teenage striker Joe Gelhardt his second Premier League start, while two more youngers, Sam Greenwood and Liam McCarron, made their top-flight debuts off the bench.

Archie Gray, 15, a great-nephew of former Leeds boss Eddie Gray, was named among the substitutes.

Bielsa, without an 11th first-team player when Jack Harrison was forced off in the first half due to a bruised hip, has done his best, publicly at least, to play down his injury crisis.

He said: “The type of injuries that we’ve had, if you look over them, they are injuries in the tendons of the muscles, in the lower part of the feet, injuries in the bones of the shoulders.

“And apart from Bamford, who got injured celebrating a goal, and James, who got injured in the last game, they’re not injuries linked to being tired or due to an accumulation of activity.”

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