Sweet confirms Luton are looking into racism allegations

Hatters CEO Gary Sweet
Hatters CEO Gary Sweet

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet has confirmed the club are looking into two alleged incidents of racial abuse after their 4-1 win over Accrington on Tuesday night.

During the game, a radio commentator claimed he heard racist remarks towards visiting striker Offrande Zanzala, while assistant BBC Sport producer Karen Fazackerley, who was at the match, alleged on Twitter that defender Michael Ihiekwe was also abused.

Although he didn't hear any chants himself, Zanzala, speaking to the Sun, said: "Friends have called to say I was being called ‘monkey’ and other things.

"I’ll take the matter up with my club.

"For a human being to be treated in this way is disgusting."

"I have been told the chants were not only directed at me but also to our centre-back Michael Ihiekwe.

"I don’t know what happens next but this was especially aggressive and I don’t understand it."

"I was not aware of it as I was so involved in the game.

"But for this to be still happening in this century is very sad."

When interviewed on Talksport this morning, Sweet confirmed the club have taken such allegations very seriously and are now sifting through audio evidence of the game to see if there is a case to answer.

He also admitted that Luton would expose any such incidents, if they were proved to have taken place, saying: "The allegations this week, at the moment they are allegations, so the first thing is, we're absolutely clear here, racism of any kind is not welcome at Kenilworth Road.

"We deal with it really swiftly and we have our own way of doing it. Sometimes it’s not about castigating its about educating, so there are clear examples of what we’ve done in the past and it helps better than just banning someone for example.

"But the clear message here is that we don't allow racism in Kenilworth Road or in Power Court when we move there.

"The point here is that we are investigating with the police. The key incident is there’s two incidents, only one was reported and the other the player is commenting on, neither at the moment are substantiated, neither have evidence at the moment.

"We are looking very hard, we are trying to deal with these two issues, but it’s actually really difficult for me to claim this as until we prove this is fact.

"I was there on Tuesday and we were shocked and surprised by all of this.

"You know in football sometimes, and this is no excuse as this is such a sensitive thing to talk about and I don’t really want my words to be taken out of context here, as they're genuine, quite often people can misinterpret things.

"When Accrington were kicking the ball in the air, the word 'hoof' came out of it and that can be mistaken for a number of things for instance.

"We've actually got people who are studying audio evidence, going through 90 minutes of the game now, through both teams commentary that are looking for those elements as we want to find them if they’re there.

"The key thing is are they there? So I really hope they’re not as I think in our ground at the moment, we've got such a harmonious atmosphere, one thing our supporters aren't is racist, seriously, we’ve 10,000 people there every week.

"One thing when we listen to the audio evidence that comes through is the crowd singing about James Justin who’s been a black player since he joined us when eight years old and is now wanted by Premier League clubs and has been playing U19 England level.

"The song he has is 'he’s one of his own,' shows we embrace these matters ourselves.

"One of the things we're so proud about is how we defend these matters.

“We’ve got nothing to hide, if we do have a problem then we’ll expose it and we’ll deal with it."