Chelsea want action after Benayoun is 'racially abused'
Thursday 28 July 2011
Chelsea have written a formal letter of complaint to the Malaysian FA, protesting about what the club claim was racist behaviour towards their Israeli midfielder, Yossi Benayoun.
Benayoun was subject to persistent booing during Chelsea's 1-0 win over a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim nation which has never recognised Israel.
Chelsea is a club with a zero tolerance policy on racism but has waited until now before complaining because they wanted to be sure that Benayoun was being specifically targeted by a minority in an 84,000 crowd at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
In the statement the club said: "Notwithstanding most fans behaving appropriately on the night, we believe Yossi was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse by a number of supporters at the game. Such behaviour is offensive, totally unacceptable and has no place in football. The club did not make representations at the time as it was initially unclear as to the nature of the abuse Yossi received, as several players from both teams experienced similar treatment, sometimes louder and longer. However, having taken time to consider the issue fully, it has become apparent that a formal complaint was necessary. Our stay in Malaysia was, on the whole, a very positive experience for all the team travelling on the pre-season tour. It is a shame, therefore, that the behaviour of a minority of supporters is also a memory we take away."
In 2008, some Muslim groups protested about the prospect of a Chelsea team led by Avram Grant touring the country, although in the event, the Israeli manager was replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari before the team arrived in Kuala Lumpur.
Benayoun enjoyed a gentler experience last night as part of a Chelsea side that overcame the Hong Kong champions, Kitchee, 4-0 to reach Saturday's final of the Barclays Asia Trophy. It was his run that ended in the penalty Frank Lampard converted for Chelsea's first goal.
At 33, Lampard is not yet contemplating retirement but said he would not want to linger once he stopped being a box-to-box midfielder.
While on tour with Chelsea, Lampard has been played in a slightly different role – slightly deeper and more on the right than he is used to with Chelsea, although it is one he has occupied for England.
"I don't mind where I play but I do like to get forward and this won't be a role that will stop me getting into the box," he said of the changes made by Andre Villas-Boas. "As long as I am never told not to stray beyond the halfway line, then I'll be happy.
"I have never been that kind of defensive player. Pre-season has always been about getting yourself fresh and I am getting there but, if I didn't, I wouldn't want to hang around too long.
"I love getting into the box, getting up and down the pitch. I know I can still do it and, hopefully, I can do it for a few more years but I know when that day will come," he said, joking that he would "probably be sold before then".
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