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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Jestrovic providing yet another racist example

Liverpool played Belgian side Anderlecht at Anfield in the Champions League last week Wednesday, won 3-0. During the game, Anderlecht's Serbian forward Nenad Jestrovic came into contact with Liverpool's Mohamed Sissoko and as a result the Serb turned to Sissoko and muttered something. This was captured on replay. Nothing was captured of any words before or after Jestrovic's words, from Sissoko. The replay was slow enough for me to lip-read Jestrovic, and I deciphered the words "F*** You......", and I didn't decipher another word which followed. Sissoko reacted, shown on replay, with a glance towards either the Liverpool bench or someone else and stepped away. That word must have been the racial insult referee Kim Milton Nielsen picked up, to have sent off Jestrovic, and when you're around Nielsen you're just as well in the vicinity of Robocop. No disrespect to the Dane, but little seems to get past his senses.

To think that Jestrovic had only come on as a sub 5mins prior to the sending off, makes me wonder why he had to be involved in such an incident. That is not to say he was guilty, but at the time his side were 2-0 down and he should have been focused on helping the side get back into the game, not getting into silly words with the opposition. Afterwards, Jestrovic said he went up to Nielsen's dressing room to speak to the referee, not to apologise, but to find out why he was sent off, despite having been told this at the time of the sending-off. Jestrovic alleges that on the night, not only did Sissoko initially insult him regarding his mother, that he did so in French after having elbowed the Serb, and Jestrovic in return swore back in English because he felt Sissoko "deserved it."

Sissoko's words were said to have been missed by the referee due to the possibility that Nielsen couldn't understand French, which asks why didn't Jestrovic reply in kind. Jestrovic also alleges Sissoko provoked him when the sides met a fortnight earlier at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium. Claims which were unsubstantiated. In interview Jestrovic said "I don't understand why the referee sent me off. Sissoko didn't hear it and he look surprised when I was sent off."

Jestrovic was eventually suggested to have said "f*** off, black" to Sissoko. Nielsen reported the incidents, that of the sending-off and Jestrovic coming to his dressing room allegedly using foul language, to UEFA, stating "I showed Jestrovic a red card because he said something racist to Sissoko. I know UEFA are very keen to stamp out racism. They want strong action and sending him off was the correct decision."

Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren: "I have to believe my player. The other player should have also been sent off as well, he said something similar. Okay, these things should not be said, but I do not intend to punish my player further, he has been punished enough and anything I do will only punish the team. If it was racial abuse, I cannot condone that. I do not want to explain it in detail, but I can say that the words and language used you hear 50 times in an average game. Sissoko insulted Jestrovic and he replied in kind and the referee said he heard Jestrovic and sent him off. It is what you hear often. We will wait and see what the referee's report says. Maybe what was written may not be correct and I will want to see what is supposed to have been said."

Clearly the coach spoke on what he heard from his player, rather than wait, as he said he would, for the referee's report to come across him. Six days on, Jestrovic has now been proven to UEFA of using a racist insult and has been banned for three European games, therefore missing the remaining two games against Chelsea and Real Betis and the next European game after.

Of course this follows from when Lazio's Sinisa Mihajlovic, ironically another Serb, was banned for two games after pleading guilty to racially insulting Patrick Vieira during the Lazio v Arsenal Champions League match in Rome, 18th October 2000. Mihajlovic claimed that Vieira insulted him first, calling him a "gypsy ****", and the Serb replied with "black ****". Mihajlovic denied his words were racist, saying they were equal to that said to him by Vieira. His claim was also unsubstantiated.

For Jestrovic, had he used foul language he may have remained on the pitch, there is little to say he would have been sent off, more to say that with such an exchange of words, Nielsen would step in and tell them both to stop it and get on with the game. First Nielsen is said to have not heard Sissoko, then he is said to have heard Sissoko but couldn't understand it because it was in French. A confliction which added to the confusion of Jestrovic's version, and to his case. Since Mihajlovic received a 2-game ban, perhaps Jestrovic receive one more for going to the referee's dressing-room, which was said to have also upset UEFA.

Racist overtones and approaching the referee inside his quarters is a violation of the integrity of the game. Vieira and Sissoko both said they have received chanting from the crowd, regarded as stupid, but to receive it from a fellow professional was even worse. For me, it's another level of ignorance but used during the play in an attempt to disrupt the player more than insult. Nonetheless, wherever and whenever it occurs, it must be clamped on immediately, and for that I applaud the Dane for his quick actions that aided highlighting this continuous issue in the game.



Blogger T said...

Its an ugly story that needs to be highlighted, so thanx for doing so Redsman. Kim Milton Nielson again set the right example (the second yellow card handed to Rooney has done the England youngster good) by handing out the ultimate punishment for wholly unacceptable racism directed by Jestrovic to Sissoko.

11/09/2005 11:21 am


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