Arsenal reports allegation of racism during EPL match

“It was a single incident and it has to be reported,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal reported an allegation of racial abuse toward one of its players during the English Premier League game against Leeds on Saturday, manager Mikel Arteta said.

The alleged incident took place in the 33rd minute of the game at Elland Road.

“It was reported and the stadium manager will have to deal with that with the authorities,” Arteta said after Arsenal’s 4-1 win.

Leeds United statement continues:

“Racism will not be tolerated at Leeds United and any supporter found to be using racist language will be subject to a life time ban for all Leeds United games.” #lufc

— Adam Pope (@apopey) December 18, 2021

Arteta said it was a “single person” who aimed the alleged abuse apparently toward one of Arsenal’s substitutes.

“Very disappointed because we have done so much in football to try to avoid it,” he said, “but it is a single person. I don’t think that merits that a full stadium pays the price.

“It was a single incident and it has to be reported. It was reported and now the authorities will have to work with the clubs to understand what happened.”

The English Premier League’s pandemic-affected schedule took a further hit on Saturday when a COVID-19 outbreak in Aston Villa’s squad sparked the postponement of its match against Burnley, reducing the number of fixtures in the round to four.

England continued to be the most heavily disrupted of the major soccer countries in Europe, reflecting the growing public health emergency in Britain as the omicron variant spreads.

So depleted was the Premier League schedule, there was only one game on Saturday — Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Leeds. That was played despite Arsenal manager Arteta saying there had been more coronavirus cases among the club’s players and staff.

Villa-Burnley was scheduled to be the other game but it was called off around two hours before kickoff, with Villa telling the league it did not have enough players to field a team following more positive tests in its squad that were reported early Saturday.

The league approved Villa’s request to postpone the match “based on the number of COVID-19 cases, injuries and illness.”

A programme seller returns takes her stall back towards the stadium following the news that Aston Villa’s match against Burnley at Villa Park has been postponed, in Birmingham, England, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. The Premier League lost another match to a COVID-19 outbreak in a squad when Aston Villa’s home game against Burnley was postponed around two hours before kickoff. Villa said it did not have enough players to field a team following more positive tests in its squad. (David Davies/PA via AP)

Five matches scheduled for this weekend had already been called off because of coronavirus outbreaks in squads.

The league said the games set for Sunday — Newcastle-Manchester City, Wolverhampton-Chelsea and Tottenham-Liverpool — “are currently scheduled to proceed as planned.”

The total number of games to have been postponed over the past week stands at 10. Only six games were called off in the whole of last season because of the coronavirus.

Burnley has had two games postponed on the day of the fixture in the last four days. Its home match against Watford was also called off a few hours before kickoff on Wednesday.

Many Burnley fans would have been traveling to Villa Park when the postponement was announced and Villa apologized for the inconvenience, saying the club “acted as swiftly as possible this morning to minimize disruption.”

“The results of PCR tests, which were taken yesterday prior to training as well as lateral flow tests, were received this morning,” Villa said in a statement, “and confirmed further depletion of our playing squad which was already impacted upon for our trip to Norwich in midweek.”

Premier League managers will meet on Monday to discuss the COVID-19 situation, with some managers — such as Brentford’s Thomas Frank — advocating a break in play to reduce the outbreaks, and others saying the games should continue.

The league has already reintroduced emergency measures such as more frequent testing and wearing face masks indoors. Its board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis and “based on existing rules and COVID-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs.”

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