Repeated chants have halted a second division football match in Spain. Ukrainian Roman Zozulya — playing for Albacete — was accused by leftist Rayo Vallecano fans of being a “Nazi,” a label he denies.
Both teams and Spain’s La Liga jointly backed Sunday’s decision made at half-time by the referee to suspend the game hosted in Madrid, after local fans defied the Vallecas stadium announcer and sang “Zozulya you are a Nazi.”
The striker, 30, who in February 2017 was shunned during a brief spell at the Madrid team Rayo, denied at the time belonging to far-right groups in his native Ukraine and disputed holding extreme political views.
Albacete, whom Zozulya later joined in 2017 as a free agent, said Sunday’s game suspension had “one objective, which is to safeguard the values of our competition and the sport we all love.”
It’s the latest in a series of match abandonments in diverse contexts in Europe, including Hertha Berlin’s youth team walking off on Saturday after alleged racist abuse by rival players.
In mid-November, Dutch Den Bosch fans denigrated Excelsior Rotterdam’s forward Ahmad Mendes Moreira. Earlier in November, Italian striker Mario Balotelli walked off the pitch briefly over racist chants.
In October, Bulgarian fans taunted visiting England black players.
When Sunday’s Rayo-Albacete match was suspended, the half-time score was goalless. Albacete were down to 10 men after striker Eddy Silvester was sent off.
ipj/dr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)