EFL

Birmingham and AFC Wimbledon players report racist abuse from opposing fans

By Sports Desk February 03, 2024

Police are investigating allegations Birmingham’s Juninho Bacuna was racially abused by a fan during Saturday’s derby against West Brom at The Hawthorns.

The home club have confirmed they are supporting West Midlands Police after Curacao midfielder Bacuna reported the matter to the referee during the second half of the Sky Bet Championship encounter.

It was one of two such incidents on the same day in the English Football League as AFC Wimbledon manager Johnnie Jackson revealed his player Omar Bugiel had reported being racially abused at Bradford.

A statement from West Brom read: “West Bromwich Albion can confirm Birmingham City player Juninho Bacuna reported an incident of racism to referee David Webb during the second half of today’s game.

“Albion will offer its full support to West Midlands Police in their criminal investigation of this matter. The club will also remain in contact with Birmingham City to ensure Juninho Bacuna receives the support he requires at this time.

“The club takes a strong stance against all forms of discrimination and will do all it can to ensure anyone found guilty of racism faces the toughest available legal punishment, in addition to a lifetime ban from The Hawthorns.

“Albion will continue to work with the Football Association, the EFL and all relevant authorities to rid the game of racism.”

The incident comes a week after West Brom’s FA Cup tie against another local rival in Wolves was marred by crowd violence.

Birmingham said in a statement Bacuna’s complaint will be “included in the official’s match report and the club will assist the FA, the EFL and the authorities accordingly.”

It added: “Birmingham City thanks the West Brom stewards, security and executive team who acted immediately and the issue is now with West Midlands Police.”

Play was briefly held up late in Wimbledon’s League Two meeting with Bradford at Valley Parade as Lebanon striker Bugiel reported being the victim of alleged racist abuse from someone in the crowd.

Jackson said: “I think there was some racist abuse towards Omar Bugiel. He’s gone in with the referee to report it.

“I don’t know what was said. Obviously, we’ll wait to see the report until I comment further but someone in the crowd has said something to him that they shouldn’t have done.”

The PA news agency has contacted the Football Association for a response.

West Brom beat Birmingham 1-0 while the encounter between Bradford and Wimbledon ended in a goalless draw.

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