Manchester City locked in racism row as Premier League champions support Patrick Vieira despite HNK Rijeka's claim that racial abuse allegations are false

Manager Ranko Buketa claims that ulterior motives were behind Vieira's decision to take the Elite Development Squad off during a match in Croatia

Manchester City are considering their next move in the wake of the racism row which blew up out of their elite development squad's friendly in Croatia.

City will continue to evaluate the situation now the EDS has returned home, as they were scheduled to do, but it is too early to say what their next course of action will be over racist abuse allegations made by 19-year-old French midfielder Seko Fofana after he was sent off.

It is understood that the club fully support EDS coach Patrick Vieira in making the decision he did but their opponents HNK Rijeka have denied any of their players are racist and claimed the City boss may have had ulterior motives.

Ranko Buketa, who was in charge of Rijeka's team on Tuesday, accused Vieira of trying to divert attention away from Fofana's red card.

"It looks like a move which is trying to hide a very ugly foul by the Manchester City player that resulted in exclusion, followed by a hasty and illogical decision of the coaching staff to withdraw the team from the field," he told the club's official website.

"Such an abrupt decision surprised us as it was made by responsible people at a respectable club like Manchester City."

 

In a further statement the club added: "Rijeka clearly and unequivocally reject any possibility that the players at the match against Manchester City participated in assaulting the rival players on racial, religious or ethnic grounds.

"We want to point out the fact that we mentioned at the game we had six players from the Nigeria squad, players who live and train together with our other players, who learned the Croatian language and who have never experienced any discomfort by team-mates - as they themselves can attest.

"We also want to point out that Rijeka, in co-operation with FARE, supports a campaign against racism and strongly condemns any incident of its kind.

"Because of this, we are surprised by the unpleasantly harsh and baseless accusations of which we are accused and that we completely reject."

Vieira has been praised for his actions by Piara Powar, executive director at anti-discrimination network FARE.

"We are not, in the short term, able to stop this sort of incident happening but to have someone like Patrick Vieira, with his status, do this makes the message very clear," Powar told Press Association Sport.

"The message it sends out is categorical. It is just the sort of thing which will create change.

"Rijeka are professing puzzlement as to why the team were taken off but I don't think Patrick would have done that without good cause.

"If it was bad enough to take the team off I would hope they would make a complaint (to FIFA). We will be alerting FIFA to this."

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Manchester City coach and Elite Development Squad manager Patrick Vieira

It is not the first time City's players have been involved in such incidents.

CSKA Moscow were ordered by UEFA to close part of their stadium after midfielder Yaya Toure was racially abused during a Champions League match in October.

Porto were fined £16,700 in April 2012 after their supporters directed racist chants at Toure and striker Mario Balotelli, who has since left the club, during a Europa League tie.

Youth team striker Devante Cole, son of former Manchester United and Newcastle forward Andy, was racially abused by players and supporters during a UEFA Youth League match against Atletico Madrid in February.

There has been no response so far from either FIFA or the Croatian Football Association.

PA

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