The 179th Manchester derby at the Etihad on Saturday sure dent Pep Guardiola’s hopes of winning his third consecutive Premier League title, but the result remained a secondary point of the debate on the night. The game was rather marred by an alleged incident of racism targeted towards Manchester United midfielder, Fred.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, while taking a corner, was targeted by a 41-year-old man, named Anthony Burke, sitting right beside the fence. Burke’s video of making disturbing chants towards Fred went viral on the internet, and the City hierarchy said they are not only working with the local police to identify the individual, but are also investigating the objects thrown on the field during the incident.
"A 41-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody for questioning," said a statement released by Greater Manchester Police Sunday.
Responding to the allegation, Burke took to social media to put on his side of the story, and wrote,
"Listen, I'm only racist because I had a screen shot that made me look it. However, I ain't racist, watch the match half of it was me with me putting my hands in my pants."
Things actually went from bad to worse for Burke as he was suspended from his job at building company Kier Group soon after the video went viral.
Kier has a zero tolerance policy towards any racist and discriminatory behaviour. We can confirm an employee has been suspended pending an investigation.— Kier Group plc (@kiergroup) December 8, 2019
As for Fred, the midfielder was hit by a lighter and water bottles were also thrown on the field. The Brazilian, however, said he only learned about the gestures when his teammates showed him the footage in the dressing room.
"Unfortunately, we are still in a backward society. (It is a shame) we still have to live with that in 2019.
"On the field, I didn't see anything. I saw it only in the locker room afterwards. The guys showed me. He even threw a lighter and it hit me. I try not to care about that. I try to look ahead.
"Unfortunately, this is happening in some stadiums. It happened here, it happened in Ukraine with some friends.
"It's sad, but we have to keep our heads up and forget about that."
Feature image courtesy: AFP /Oli Scarff