LONDON – The latest racism row engulfing English soccer took a fresh turn Monday amid reports Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger had been abused by spectators during Sunday’s fractious London derby.
Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium saw referee Anthony Taylor halt play during the second half when Rudiger complained of hearing monkey noises from spectators.
Moments earlier, the Chelsea defender had been involved in a clash with Son that saw the South Korean sent off.
But late Monday a report on the website of Britain’s Guardian newspaper said a Chelsea supporter had been arrested for racially abusing Son on Sunday.
London Metropolitan Police told AFP an arrest concerning a possible racially aggravated public order offense, without specifying if the person in question was a supporter of either club.
A force spokesman added: “Police were made aware of alleged racist chanting during the second half of the Tottenham vs. Chelsea match on Sunday, 22 December.
“Officers will work with the club in an attempt to identify any people responsible.”
Meanwhile Tottenham, having promised a thorough investigation of the Rudiger incident, said Monday its initial inquiries had failed to find a culprit despite “many hours” reviewing images from stadium video cameras and having professional lipreaders study the footage.
Tottenham insisted any fan found guilty would receive a lifetime ban, but stressed: “At this time, however, we should point out that our findings are inconclusive.”
Shortly after the stoppage brought about by Rudiger’s complaint, Taylor halted play and spoke to both managers, Tottenham’s Jose Mourinho and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, while an announcement over the stadium’s public address system warned “racist behavior among spectators is interfering with the game.”
The announcement was repeated, with Tottenham saying this had created a “misconception that any issue was ongoing” because Taylor had implemented the first stage of UEFA’s protocol for dealing with racist incidents, rather than the equivalent Premier League regulation.
After the match, Rudiger tweeted: “It’s just such a shame that racism still exists in 2019.
“When will this nonsense stop?”
England’s Professional Footballers Association, called late Sunday for a government inquiry into racism within soccer, adding its members were “on the receiving end of the blatant racism that is currently rife in the U.K., but they are not alone.”
A Downing Street spokesman responded by condemning “racism of any kind.”
“Clearly,” he added, “there remains more work to be done by the football authorities in tackling this issue and we are committed to working with them on this to stamp it out.”