Uefa set to launch investigation after an inflatable banana seemingly thrown at Roma striker Gervinho during win over Feyenoord

Dutch club's general manager claims incident was not racist 'pure coincidence'

Uefa are set to launch an investigation after an inflatable banana was seemingly thrown at Roma forward Gervinho by home fans in the Italian club's Europa League win at Feyenood.

However, Feyernoord's general manager Eric Gudde said after the match that the incident was not racist but one of "pure coincidence".

"We told the Uefa delegation that this has happened for years with us," Gudde told reporters. "I'm ruling out racism. Racism is not an issue here at all.

"It was pure coincidence that the banana dropped near Gervinho. But the referee reacted very strongly on it. During half-time we explained the situation. I hope they take that into account."

Gudde added: "I understand the irritation of fans as I, too, was surprised about some of the refereeing decisions, but it never legitimises throwing things at the linesman.

"We will be fined heavily - that money should be being invested in youth, not wasted on fines."

Roma won 2-1 at De Kuip to progress into the last-16 of the Europa League, but the match was overshadowed by crowd trouble.

The first leg in Rome was also marred by trouble involving visiting fans and there were reports of unrest before Thursday's return meeting as well, with police said to have detained 17 people.

French referee Clement Turpin spoke to both managers towards the end of a volatile first half after the former Arsenal forward Gervinho seemingly had an inflatable banana thrown in his direction from a section of the stadium housing Feyenoord fans.

The match was then suspended for around 15 minutes at the start of the second half when Turpin took the players off the pitch.

Additional reporting from PA

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