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KICK It Out came out in support today of Queens Park Rangers Under 18s’ decision to walk off the pitch, leaving the match referee no choice but to abandon the game, after the team were racially abused during a friendly in Spain.
Manager Paul Furlong was informed by players, thought to be led by defender Trent Mahorn, that they were being subjected to monkey noises and taunts of “n*****” in a game against AD Nervion FC, part of a pre-season tour of Seville, just over a week ago.
Having just taken part in an equality and diversity session with Kick It Out, in which they discussed and agreed on the best course of action if such a situation arose, Furlong told his players to leave the field of play, forcing the referee to abandon the game.
Players walking off the pitch in response to racist abuse has long been discussed as a way combatting racism in football, though Manchester City star Raheem Sterling said in April: “If you do walk off the pitch as a group, then that makes them win,” before adding: “Everyone is different, everyone has their own different opinion, they take things emotionally and you have to support everyone in it.”
This is not a view shared by everyone involved in football and anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out applauded the action taken by the youngsters.
A statement read: “We will always back players and teams who leave the pitch after suffering significant discriminatory abuse, especially if they have followed the correct protocols.
“Kick It Out’s head of development Troy Townsend visited Queens Park Rangers just last month to help prepare players and staff for what may happen on tour.
“We have been in constant communication with the club since this incident, and will continue to support all football clubs and players in the fight against discrimination in the game.”
QPR chief executive Lee Hoos demanded that Uefa take the “strongest possible action,” adding that the club were warned prior to the game, and tour, that there was a possibility of the players being racially abused.
Hoos said: “We take a very strong stance against racism and will not tolerate one of our players being subjected to the despicable comments experienced.
“I applaud Paul Furlong and his staff for reacting in such a manner and doing everything within their powers to protect the players.
“I am also very proud of our Under 18s who showed such maturity in the face of unacceptable provocation.
“Had this incident occurred in England, I have no doubts the issue would be dealt with swiftly with a strong punishment by the FA.
“Unfortunately, it seems some countries have a long way to go in this respect and I urge Uefa to take the strongest possible action as incidents of this nature are happening far too often.
“At QPR, we must not, and will not, stand for it.
“We have made many great strides in tackling racism in football, but sadly there is still a long way to go.
“Racism in football is a reflection of problems within society and what’s incredible is that we were warned of similar alleged incidents that had taken place in the region before we played there.
“Should we have refused the fixture? Is that going to solve the problem or avoid it?
“Action must be taken at every level of our game, not just when it happens in front of the watching world.
“There is an opportunity here for Uefa to make a strong statement. I hope it is an opportunity they take.”
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