|Tottenham Hotspurs Son Heung-min greets supporters during the English FA cup quarter final game between Tottenham Hotspurs and Millwall at White Hart Lane in London, Sunday. / EPA-Yonhap|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Tottenham Hotspur’s Korean forward Son Heung-min scored a hat-trick during his team’s 6-0 win against Millwall at the FA Cup semifinals Sunday (local time) but became the target of racist remarks by Millwall fans.
On Tottenham’s home ground, White Hart Lane in London, the Millwall supporters chanted “DVD” and “he’s selling three for a fiver” towards the 24-year-old Korean whenever he took control of the ball during the game. The reference to selling DVDs is considered racist when aimed at Asian players. In response to Millwall supporters, the Spurs fans also chanted “no noise from the pikey boys.”
According to a British media outlet, there were also reports of trouble involving supporters outside the stadium before and after the match. The London Metropolitan Police confirmed they arrested two people, charging them with offenses against the public order act.
Acknowledging the chants against Son, the English Football Association (FA) said Monday it is working with the clubs and police before deciding what action to take.
The Spurs handed CCTV footage to the FA and the football governing body may also hire cultural experts to review this case.
A Millwall spokesman said “Millwall have led the way in anti-discrimination initiatives and will continue to do so. The club is assisting the FA with their investigation and will make no further comment until that process is complete.”
A Spurs spokesman said “We strongly condemn the use of any racist language. We shall be passing on all of our footage to the relevant authorities which can assist with the identification of anyone responsible for making such chants at Sunday’s game.”
The managers of both clubs said they did not hear the chants directed at Son, but insisted the FA should take action against racism.
“I didn’t hear anything. Me personally, and also the club, we won’t condone that,” the Millwall manager Neil Harris said. “We came here in the right spirit, to enjoy an FA Cup quarter-final, so if that’s proven to have been to the detriment to the competition then I’m sure it will be left to the authorities. We just want people to enjoy the game.”
This is not the first case of its kind.
When Son played a game against Liverpool last month he received a yellow card for a wild tackle on Roberto Firmino. During a replay on NBC TV, former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon made a karate sound “haaiyaa” before claiming it was a “karate kick.”
Former Korean footballers who played in the English Premier League were also subjected to racial abuse.
In 2012, an Everton fan shouted “take down that chink” in reference to retired Korean footballer Park Ji-sung, who was then playing for the Queen’s Park Rangers and the fan was found guilty of racially abusing Park.
Retired Korean footballer Seol Ki-hyeon was another victim of racism. Twelve years ago, when the Korea forward who was playing for the Wolverhampton Wanderers scored a goal against Millwall, the Millwall fans used the same chants towards the Korean.
Keith Hackett, a former football referee, wrote in The Telegraph on March 12 that referee Martin Atkinson would have stopped the match if he had known about the abuse on Son.
“You know that you cannot ignore any accusation of that nature and the match can be delayed as long as you see fit. We have seen incidents in other countries where the official has threatened to call a match off in the wake of serious abuse, and that is something I would wholeheartedly support,” Hackett wrote.