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Premier League

Call for lifetime bans in West Ham race row

Football's Kick It Out organisation has called for lifetime bans should allegations of racism at West Ham United last weekend be proved.

West Ham confirmed on Monday they are investigating claims that the families of players Victor Obinna and Frédéric Piquionne were racially abused by spectators at Saturday's match against Manchester United at Upton Park.

Reports emerged that guests of the two strikers were involved in a confrontation with a small group of fans during the 4-2 home defeat to the Premier League leaders.

According to the reports, the families were racially abused while sitting in a box in the Main Stand and led to the club's co-chairman David Sullivan admitting he was "appalled" by the alleged incident.

West Ham released an official statement yesterday denouncing the behaviour and promising a full investigation into the allegations, a move welcomed by football's equality and inclusion campaign, Kick It Out.

"We would absolutely call for a lifetime ban [should individuals be found guilty]," Kick It Out spokesman Danny Lynch said. "We've always advocated a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination in the game.

"This sort of thing gives the perception that it sets us back and I think it masks all the hard work clubs like West Ham do. There is absolutely no place for that sort of thing.

"It is always very disappointing to hear of such incidents because if you look at where the game has gone in the past 25 years, we have made massive strides and massive steps," he added.

"This, though, sort of shows if anything that we need to remain on our toes, remain vigilant. We welcome West Ham's very proactive stance yesterday, with David Sullivan coming out saying he would investigate it and I think that is what we need.

"We need clubs to take action and be on the front foot, essentially, so we applaud that. West Ham are a very community-focused club anyway and they have seen the incident as a blot on the rest of the supporters so there is no doubt they will take the action that needs to be done.

"And that will be supported by all the organisations that have a vested interest like Kick It Out, the FA, the PFA and so on.

"We welcome the fact that they have opened up an investigation about it and we are there to assist should they need us to."