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Luis Castro finds it ‘strange’ Taison banned after being subjected to racial abuse

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By Andy Hampson, PA

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Luis Castro says it is “strange” his player Taison has been banned after being subjected to racial abuse.

The Brazilian midfielder has been handed a one-match suspension by the Ukrainian Association of Football following a controversial incident in his side’s clash with rivals Dynamo Kiev earlier this month.

Taison, 31, gestured towards the Dynamo fans and kicked the ball at them in response to racial abuse during a Ukraine Premier League match on November 10. He was sent off for his reaction.

Castro was asked about the matter as he arrived in England ahead of his side’s Champions League Group C clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “Racism is a very sensitive subject, it’s an issue not just in football but in every aspect of our society. It does bother us and it’s one of the main plagues in the whole world. There is no other way to put it into words.

“Every one of us feels sadness from what happened but we know humans are erratic beings. People do make mistakes here and there, some worse than others. We all agree that racism should end, like child labour, domestic violence, wars and many others plagues.

“On this specific case, we should not tolerate this in football. Do I agree with Taison’s suspension? It’s strange to see the offended being punished.

“But I have to accept the rules. It doesn’t matter if I agree or not, maybe it does matter before rules are written.

“Right now I just have to accept it, support my player and try to help him not to feel this distinction that some people want to impose. Let’s move on with our squad, a place that everyone has the same rights.”

Taison was not with the squad in Manchester due to injury.

The journey is now a familiar one for Shakhtar having been drawn against City in the Champions League for three seasons in succession, but their record against the English side is poor.

The Ukrainians have lost four of the previous five meetings and were thrashed 6-0 when they visited the Etihad Stadium a year ago. City also won 3-0 in Kharkiv when the sides met in September.

Yet despite being underdogs, Shakhtar do have plenty of incentive to perform as qualification is still within their grasp. An unexpected victory even would put them through with a game to spare if Dinamo Zagreb slip up against Atalanta.

Castro, whose side are 13 points clear at the top of the Ukraine Premier League, said: “Our tactics will remain the same and we will try to continue the work we have done up to now.

“Of course playing Manchester City is very complicated but when you are in charge of the ball you control the situation and that is what we will also try to do.

“We did not come here to play a defensive game. We will try to create opportunities and find our way to the City goal.”

PA

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