Two men arrested over Yorke race slur

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The Independent Online

Two men were yesterday arrested for allegedly racially abusing Dwight Yorke after the Birmingham City striker decided to press charges following an incident at Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.

Two men were yesterday arrested for allegedly racially abusing Dwight Yorke after the Birmingham City striker decided to press charges following an incident at Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.

The two men, both in their early 20s, voluntarily attended Blackburn police station at 4pm following an appeal by Lancashire Police, who yesterday also interviewed Yorke and his team-mate Stephen Clemence at Birmingham's training ground.

The two players were warming up during the second half at Ewood Park when Yorke - a former Blackburn player - was taunted with offensive gestures and "monkey chants". Yorke confronted one man and later complained to the authorities and to the police. The incident was caught on Sky Sports' cameras. The men face being charged with committing a racially aggravated public order offence.

Birmingham's co-owner, David Sullivan, yesterday stood by his comments that the incident had been blown "out of all proportion". Sullivan has been criticised by Yorke's friend Stern John, a former Birmingham player, and Shaka Hislop, the Portsmouth goalkeeper and another Trinidad & Tobago international, for his comments. Yorke is understood to be considering his future at the club.

Sullivan said that Yorke, signed earlier this season for £250,000, could leave Birmingham if he wanted to because of the row. "If he does then I admire him for standing by his principles," Sullivan said. "I would happily write off the transfer fee if that's what he wants. I will speak to him... In society there is a major problem with people being intolerant of other people. But football is the most racial-free part of society. You don't see any racial problems at football grounds. I would say the old nursery rhyme 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me' is true."

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, defended Sullivan - "he's certainly not racist" - and insisted that the club was "100 per cent behind Dwight and the action he took".

Kick It Out - the anti-racism campaigners - said yesterday that they would support any racially-abused players if they decide to walk off in protest during a game.

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