• Premier League

City back Vieira and consider UEFA complaint

ESPN staff
July 24, 2014
Pellegrini expects United title challenge

Manuel Pellegrini has backed Patrick Vieira's decision to take Manchester City's under-21 side off the pitch after one of their players was allegedly racially abused during a match, as the club consider making an official complaint to UEFA.

Vieira acted during Tuesday night's friendly against Croatian side HNK Rijeka in Novigrad in the belief that midfielder Seko Fofana was subjected to abuse by an opposition player.

Rijeka have claimed that Vieira's reasons for the withdrawal "are known only to him," but Pellegrini spoke out in support of his colleague, who began coaching the Premier League champions' Elite Development Squad (EDS) last summer.

"I don't know too much, but if Patrick felt it was right to take the players off the pitch, it must have been the right thing to do," Pellegrini told reporters in Kansas City, where the club are on their pre-season tour of the United States.

"He evaluated the situation and did the right thing. It is impossible to carry on playing when that kind of thing has happened."

City will continue to evaluate the situation now the EDS squad has returned home as scheduled but it is too early to say what their next course of action will be over the allegations made by 19-year-old Frenchman Fofana after he was sent off.

The Daily Telegraph reports that City will file an official complaint over the incident to European football's governing body, although that is yet to be confirmed.

According to Press Association Sport, the club fully support Vieira in making the decision he did but Rijeka have denied any of their players are racist and claimed Vieira may have had ulterior motives.

"It looks like a move which is trying to hide a very ugly foul by the Manchester City player that resulted in exclusion, followed by a hasty and illogical decision of the coaching staff to withdraw the team from the field," Rijeka youth coach Ranko Buketa told the club's official website.

"Such an abrupt decision surprised us as it was made by responsible people at a respectable club like Manchester City."

In a further statement the club added: "Rijeka clearly and unequivocally reject any possibility that the players at the match against Manchester City participated in assaulting the rival players on racial, religious or ethnic grounds.

"We want to point out the fact that we mentioned at the game we had six players from the Nigeria squad, players who live and train together with our other players, who learned the Croatian language and who have never experienced any discomfort by teammates -- as they themselves can attest.

"We also want to point out that Rijeka, in cooperation with FARE, supports a campaign against racism and strongly condemns any incident of its kind.

"Because of this, we are surprised by the unpleasantly harsh and baseless accusations of which we are accused and that we completely reject."

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