(Reuters) – Queens Park Rangers’ Under-18 coach Paul Furlong was right to take his players off the pitch after they were allegedly subjected to racist taunts in a friendly in Seville last week, the Championship club’s CEO Lee Hoos said on Wednesday.
QPR were playing AD Nervion in a pre-season game last Thursday when their players were allegedly on the receiving end of racist abuse.
After one of the QPR players told Furlong about the incident, the coach instructed his players to leave the pitch and the match was abandoned.
“We take a very strong stance against racism and will not tolerate one of our players being subjected to the despicable comments experienced,” Hoos said in a statement.
“I applaud Paul Furlong and his staff for reacting in such a manner and doing everything within their powers to protect the players. I am also very proud of our Under 18s who showed such maturity in the face of unacceptable provocation.”
Hoos also called on Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA to take strong action.
“Had this incident occurred in England I have no doubts the issue would be dealt with swiftly with a strong punishment by the FA,” he added.
“Unfortunately, it seems some countries have a long way to go in this respect and I urge UEFA to take the strongest possible action as incidents of this nature are happening far too often.
“There is an opportunity here for UEFA to make a strong statement. I hope it is an opportunity they take.”
Nervion did not immediately respond to a request for comment by email.
British anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out said they would always back teams who leave the pitch due to discriminatory abuse.
“Kick It Out’s head of development Troy Townsend visited Queens Park Rangers just last month to help prepare players and staff for what may happen on tour,” it said in a statement.
“We have been in constant communication with the club since this incident and will continue to support all football clubs and players in the fight against discrimination in the game.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)