Rabbatts warns of challenge to football

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: El-Hadji Diouf was subject to racial abuse in footage aired on Sky El-Hadji Diouf was subject to racial abuse in footage aired on Sky

Shocking footage of racist abuse of Leeds striker El-Hadji Diouf is a stark warning of the challenge the game still faces, according to Football Association independent board member Heather Rabbatts.

The FA has contacted Leeds to ask for Diouf's version of events as part of an investigation into Sky Sports News footage that appeared to show the Senegal striker being racially abused during a match at Millwall in November.

A 53-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the allegations, while Millwall have also re-opened an investigation into the incident. Rabbatts told the Press Association: "What we saw was shocking and horrible and from the FA's perspective it revealed the challenge that we have still to face in dealing with racism."

The film appeared to show Diouf alerting the referee, Mark Halsey, and making stewards aware of his allegations but Millwall insisted no complaint of racist abuse was made by the player at the time.

Rabbatts, a former member of Millwall's board, added: "It's the responsibility of all of us involved in the game that where those incidents take place, they are reported so that we can take action. It is a real concern that many feel they cannot report such abuse."

It is understood Leeds have provided the governing body with the Senegal striker's version of what happened. An FA statement said: "We were concerned by the video footage and we have requested a copy for our full consideration. We will work with all the relevant authorities, including the police, to investigate fully."

The FA urged anyone "subject to or witness to racial abuse" to report it. Football League chairman Greg Clarke also stressed the need for players to be given the support to report incidents of racist abuse.

Clarke said: "To have our players subjected to such vile and filthy abuse deserves nothing more than the culprits being arrested and facing the full weight of the law. There's two issues, one is we have to continue to work with the clubs on our anti-racism programmes which are agreed with the FA.

"Secondly is the reticence of black players to come forward and feel comfortable in supporting it. If we've created an environment that doesn't support black players in confronting this issue we've done something terribly wrong.

"We've got wrap ourselves around our black players and give them our support to report such episodes and then deal with such episodes extremely severely."

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