Racist taunting of Heskey forces FA into action

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The Independent Online

The Football Association is expected to write to Uefa, the game's European governing body, to complain about the racist abuse Emile Heskey endured from Italian supporters during Wednesday night's friendly international at the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin.

The Football Association is expected to write to Uefa, the game's European governing body, to complain about the racist abuse Emile Heskey endured from Italian supporters during Wednesday night's friendly international at the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin.

The Liverpool striker suffered boos and monkey grunts from a significant number of the home support. This has become a distressingly familiar experience for black English players abroad and Heskey in particular. He was subjected to far worse abuse when playing for Liverpool in the Czech Republic last week and suffered similarly from Yugoslav supporters when playing for the England Under-21 side in Barcelona earlier this year.

Such obvious racism is now rare within English grounds but has become a significant problem in Italy. Paul Ince was a target while playing for Internazionale and Patrick Vieira was abused by both supporters and Lazio's Yugoslav defender Sinisa Mihajlovic during Arsenal's recent match in Rome.

That it should be Lazio, who are known to have a large racist element within their support, is embarrassing for the FA since the new England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, coaches the Italian club.

"This was a matter that distressed all of us present, as it always does," the FA said in a statement yesterday. "We will be discussing it internally before raising it with Uefa." It is anticipated that a letter will be sent in the next few days.

Heskey was loath to discuss the matter, but the England centre-half, Rio Ferdinand, said: "He is getting used to it but he shouldn't have to. The way he handles it is an example to any young player."

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