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Doherty queries Slovan Bratislava punishment but backs UEFA to combat racism

Wolves are third in Europa League Group K, a point behind joint leaders Slovan and Braga.

Matt Doherty is preparing to face Slovan Bratislava with Wolves on Thursday. (Dave Howarth/PA)
Matt Doherty is preparing to face Slovan Bratislava with Wolves on Thursday. (Dave Howarth/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, PA, Bratislava

Wolves full-back Matt Doherty has questioned whether Slovan Bratislava’s punishment for the racist behaviour of the club’s supporters is sufficient but backed UEFA to combat racism more widely in the long run.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side face Slovan on Thursday with the hosts having already been sanctioned by the governing body this season – hit with a two-game stadium closure due to racist chants and a banner at a Europa League play-off game against PAOK in August.

Slovan, who played their 4-2 win over Besiktas in front of 6,000 children last month, have exploited a UEFA loophole for Thursday’s game and gifted 21,000 tickets, mostly to under-14s.

Wolves fans have been allocated just 200 and Doherty queried UEFA’s stance in this instance.

“I guess if it’s behind closed doors it’s meant to be nobody in the stadium,” he said. “If it’s a full house you’re not getting punished fully.

“You have to leave it in their (UEFA) hands and trust what they are doing.

“They are trying to deal with it all the time. It (racism) is happening way more than anyone would like or should have to deal with.

“I haven’t experienced it first hand, as in being on the pitch at the same time, but I trust the authorities and the process they are doing to do the right job, which I think they will do in the end.”

The 27-year-old also admitted he would consider walking off the pitch if any of his team-mates were targeted.

“If the players feel uncomfortable being on the pitch and can all agree on that process, I wouldn’t have a problem with it,” he said.

“I would hate to be in that position. Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but I would be in more of the mind to beat them on the pitch and shut them up that way.”

Nuno added a strong voice against racism and hopes the youngsters in attendance at the National Football Stadium will learn a valuable lesson.

“It’s never enough (punishment) until we can stop it, nothing is enough,” he said.

“I don’t want to decide the punishments, what I don’t like is for these things to happen. Racism is a social problem, it’s up to us to eradicate it from football and society. It’s such a stupid thing, I  cannot understand it.

“I hope it serves as an example for the future, someone should explain why they (the children) are here so they can grow up knowing racism is the most absurd thing in life.”

Wolves are third in Group K, a point behind joint leaders Slovan and Braga, after two games.

They beat Besiktas 1-0 in their last Europa League match but are without defender Ryan Bennett, who limped off with a groin injury in the first half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Southampton.

“We have a short squad but very competitive. We embrace every challenge with every competition,” added Nuno.

PA

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