BRUSSELS (AP) — The Belgian soccer federation opened an investigation Monday after Anderlecht coach Vincent Kompany accused rival fans of racially abusing him and his players during a league game over the weekend.
The former Manchester City captain said he was targeted by racist insults during the game against Club Brugge and said his players and staff were also subjected to racist abuse. He said Brugge fans yelled shouts of “black monkey."
“I am going home disgusted and disappointed," Kompany told TV channel Eleven Sports. “I don’t want to comment on the game. I just want to get together with my staff, to stay with the people who matter to me. We should no longer go through this."
The son of a black father and a white mother, Kompany was often the target of racist abuse during his playing years. He has been involved in the fight against racism in soccer for a long time, pushing for more diversity within the game.
The Belgian federation said the incident could eventually be referred to a disciplinary body specially set up at the start of the season to deal with racism and discrimination cases.
“Racism is despicable,” the federation said. “Always and everywhere. On the field and in the stands. Racist and discriminatory language causes irreparable psychological damage. It has no place in a soccer stadium. Period."
Anderlecht backed the coach's accusations. The Brussels club said members of the coaching staff were repeatedly abused during the game and that some players received racist insults while warming up on the sidelines.
“The behavior of some casts a shadow over Belgian soccer," Anderlecht said.
Club Brugge issued a statement following the 2-2 draw to condemn “any form of racism." On Monday, the club said it will work with all competent authorities to identify the culprits and punish them with a stadium ban.
“These individuals are not representative of the values and norms of our club, and do not have their place at Jan Breydel Stadium," the defending Belgian champions said.
Interior minister Annelies Verlinden said Kompany's response was appropriate.
“Let’s hope he and his team can recover tonight in peace," Verlinden wrote on Twitter. "The fight against racism can not tolerate any compromise.”
The incident prompted a strong reaction from Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku, who accused the Belgian league of leniency in an angry rant on social media.
“I hope you realize that an icon like Vincent Kompany has been insulted because of his skin color. Enough is enough!" Lukaku wrote in defense of his former Belgian national team teammate.
The Belgian league joined the criticism, saying racism and discrimination have no place in society and stadiums.
Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press