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Haringey boss Loizou hopes actions against alleged racism can be turning point

Tom Loizou thanked everyone for the support Haringey have received since the original incident on October 19.

Haringey manager Tom Loizou (right) hopes this could be a turning point in the face of alleged racist abuse (Steven Paston/PA)
Haringey manager Tom Loizou (right) hopes this could be a turning point in the face of alleged racist abuse (Steven Paston/PA)

By George Sessions, PA

Haringey manager Tom Loizou hopes his actions in the face of alleged racism can be a turning point and contemplated whether Yeovil should have received “a little bit heavier” punishment after their FA Cup fourth qualifying round match was finally completed.

The Glovers secured a 3-0 win at Coles Park – 10 days after the original meeting between the sides was abandoned after Loizou led his players off the pitch.

Defender Coby Rowe confirmed on Twitter he had been a victim of racism, while goalkeeper Valery Pajetat was allegedly spat on and had a bottle thrown at him – according to chairman Aki Achillea – which led to the Football Association starting an investigation.

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Haringey Borough fans show their support (Steven Paston/PA)

Asked if his actions on October 19 could be a turning point, Loizou responded: “I hope so. Like we keep saying, there is no room for racism and all you need to do is come down to Haringey Borough and watch the way our fans behave. People should take a leaf out of our book.

“First of all we could have been kicked out because I led the team off the pitch which is against FA rulings, but a heavier punishment should have happened.

“Maybe they should have been thrown out of the competition, but I wish them all the best.

“The majority of the people; the manager (Darren Sarll), the players supported us and don’t deserve to be kicked out, but something a little bit heavier should have been done.”

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Haringey Borough goalkeeper Valery Pajetat greets the home fans after the game (Steven Paston/PA)

The fixture took place hours after the Bulgaria Football Union were fined £64,641 and ordered to play their next competitive home game behind closed doors following the racist behaviour of their fans during a fixture with England on October 14.

Loizou said: “They should have banned them for four years, that would have been a start and got them out of the way.

“A fine and a stadium ban is nothing. I have had stadium bans. It is nothing. I probably get that once a year.

“They should have kicked them out of the competition and probably for the next two or three times as well and it should have been a bigger fine and then you would have seen Bulgarian fans turn against the minority and it would have made them think twice about doing it again.”

Haringey have received support from across the country with Raheem Sterling sending a tweet backing the club while a bumper crowd was in attendance for the replayed tie.

“The support has been fantastic and we even got a mention in parliament. It halted Brexit for a few minutes, so it was unbelievable,” Loizou admitted.

“We have genuinely had so much support. I’ve been stopped on the street and people have shaken my hand and given me cuddles, but I didn’t do it for the attention.

“I did it for my players because of the situation we got put in, but it shouldn’t have been left to me to take my players off and protect them.

“I think I protected the officials as well because they didn’t quite know how to deal with it.”

You can't quite understand what racism means until you look into your players' eyes and feel their pain. Haringey boss Tom Loizou

A line can be drawn under this sorry chapter now, with Yeovil progressing into the first round and Haringey happy to get back to normality.

But Loizou admitted: “You can’t quite understand what racism means until you look into your players’ eyes and feel their pain.

“They were distraught and that is the reason I took my players off and I hope it never happens again for anybody and especially my players.

“It was a tough time for me just watching that and it was disgusting behaviour.”

A double from Chris Dagnell and Luke Wilkinson’s header ensured Yeovil manager Darren Sarll was able to focus on matters on the pitch.

He said: “There was still a football match at heart and we knew coming back here, how tight it was in the first game, so we were under no illusions about how competitive a game it would be.

“I thought Haringey showed good spirit and good quality. It was important everyone went about their business properly.

“I am only saying it from one side of the fence, but it was important to put any emotion to one side and we were professional, they were professional and it made for a good game.”

PA

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