CROATIAN CLUB HNK RIJEKA DENY ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM BY MANCHESTER CITY
HNK Rijeka youth coach Ranko Buteka has denied any of his players racially insulted any City player during their abandoned Under-21 game against Manchester City EDS on Tuesday.
Buteka also suggested that his City counterpart Patrick Vieira may have taken his team off because the Croatians were the dominant team.
City midfielder Seko Fofana was shown a red card for an off the ball incident just before the game was abandoned with Rijeka leading 1-0.
Vieira reportedly entered the pitch and led his players off after a brief discussion with the referee.
In a strongly worded statement carried by Croatian national news agency Hina, the club said:
“We strongly reject unfounded racism allegations mentioned in the statement Manchester City has posted on its website and want to stress that Rijeka itself had six players from Nigeria on the team.
“We also want to point out that HNK Rijeka, in cooperation with Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe), has been supporting the campaign against racism for years and we strongly condemn every such incident.
“We are very unpleasantly surprised by the serious and unfounded allegations, which we entirely reject.”
Buteka added his own remarks on the game, he said:
“After our first goal, we expected more pressure from City but we remained the dominant team in all departments and had several opportunities to score again.
“They responded with more aggression, which resulted in a red card for them.
Buketa continued to explain his side of the story in detail:
“While the first tougher tackle on [Filip] Dangubic could be classified as reckless, the really violent tackle on Marko Marcius only a minute later was unjustifiable, so the Manchester midfielder was rightly sent off.
“The Manchester coach, Patrick Vieira, entered the pitch, discussed something with the referee and then, to the utter surprise of the packed stadium, withdrew his team from the pitch. The reasons are known only to him.
“Perhaps he had expected an easier rival, against whom they could easily dominate and easily score, but this wasn’t the case against us.”
Manchester City fully support Vieira’s decision to take his players off the field and will continue to evaluate the situation now that the Elite Development Squad has turned home.