Jonathan Leko accuses PFA and ‘leading anti-racism bodies’ of failing to support him over racist abuse

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was given an eight-match ban after he was found to have used a racial slur towards the forward

Ben Burrows
Wednesday 04 March 2020 18:51
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Leko released a statement on Wednesday
Leko released a statement on Wednesday

West Bromwich Albion’s Jonathan Leko has accused the Professional Footballers’ Association and ‘leading anti-racism bodies’ of failing to support him after he was racially abused.

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was given an eight-match ban after he was found to have used a racial slur towards the forward while he was playing for Charlton Athletic in a Championship match back in September.

Casilla initially denied the charge but an independent regulatory commission found the breach proven.

The Spaniard was also fined £60,000 and ordered to attend face-to-face education.

Now Leko, speaking for the first time since the verdict was handed down, has called on football’s governing bodies to do more when such incidents are reported.

“I am naturally relieved that the process is now complete and the FA have upheld what I have always known to be true – that I was racially abused by Kiko Casilla in a manner which shocked me and still angers and upsets me to this day,” he said in a statement given to the club’s website.

“I have been disappointed with the amount of time it has taken to reach this point. Knowing what occurred in the game that day, it has been difficult to watch Kiko Casilla continue to play for such a lengthy period as if nothing had happened.

“I would urge the game’s governing bodies to look into their own processes when such incidents are reported. It was 22 weeks between the incident and the hearing during which I had minimal contact from the PFA, of which I am a member, and no contact in the way of support from leading anti-racism bodies such as ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism The Red Card’. Some support or guidance would have been very welcome.

“By bringing the incident to the referee’s attention immediately, I was only doing what I have been educated to do throughout my career. But I found the hearing, at which I was made to feel I had done something wrong, extremely stressful.

“It made me question whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future. I certainly would think twice about how to advise another player placed in the same situation.

“From the outset, all I have done is report something that had to be challenged and exposed for what it is – racial abuse. I now want to put the episode behind me and concentrate on recovering from my injury to be ready for next season.”

The PFA subsequently released a statement apologising for the fact that Leko felt “unsupported” by the organisation.

“Today, Jonathan Leko has released a statement following the announcement of Kiko Casilla’s eight-game ban for racially abusing Leko during a Championship match in September,” the PFA’s statement read.

“Within his statement, Leko expressed his disappointment with the process and the support he received.

“We’d like to apologise to Jonathan. We do not want any player to feel unsupported when going through something as difficult as this.

“At the time of the incident, we reached out to the club to advise them that we have a dedicated Equalities team in place that can support and guide Jonathan through the investigation and hearing process. This is usual procedure following a racist incident.

“Unfortunately, on this occasion, we did not hear back and wrongly assumed that Jonathan did not require our support.

“We’re grateful for Jonathan’s feedback and will review our procedures to ensure we learn from this moving forward.

“Following the hearing we reached out to Jonathan directly and have subsequently arranged a meeting – which is due to take place tomorrow.”

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