A police investigation is ongoing after Saturday’s Ligue 1 match between Morecambe and Bolton at Mazuma Stadium was halted when the referee removed both groups of players from the pitch due to alleged racist abuse from the public local.
With Morecambe leading 1-0, the match was interrupted just before stoppage time when Bolton boss Ian Evatt entered the pitch to speak to referee Ross Joyce.
Bolton’s official Twitter account posted: “With Ian Evatt furious over something said in the stands by a local fan behind the dugout, the referee pulled the players off the pitch.
“A domestic fan had already been ejected a few minutes ago.”
Players and officials returned after a 10-minute break to end the match, which ended 1-1 after a late equalizer from Bolton’s Amadou Bakayoko.
Shortly after full time, Morecambe said in a statement: “Morecambe Football Club is aware of a series of incidents and allegations which were made during Saturday’s game against Bolton Wanderers in Sky Bet League One.
“The club will work with all relevant authorities to investigate the above.
“Morecambe FC will have no further comment at this time.”
Lancashire Police said they were working with Morecambe on an investigation into the alleged racist remarks and revealed five Bolton supporters had been arrested for separate offences.
A police statement read: “An investigation is ongoing following disturbances and allegations of racial abuse during today’s game between Morecambe and Bolton.
“The League One game was suspended for 10 minutes at 4.45pm and the players were taken off the pitch after a number of racial slurs directed at Bolton’s bench.
“After the game resumed and Bolton equalized, a number of their fans took to the pitch in celebration and control had to be regained.
“A total of five Bolton fans have been arrested for offenses including drunkenness and disorder, encroachment on the pitch and assault on a police officer.”
Inspector James Martin, of Morecambe Police, said: “Some of the behavior at the game this afternoon was utterly disgraceful and totally unacceptable.
“We will work closely with Morecambe FC to identify those responsible so that we can take appropriate action.”
Bolton boss Evatt: I’m emotional
Evatt said the abuse, which included alleged spitting, had been persistent throughout the 90 minutes and condemned the behavior of a small part of the home fans.
“I’m really moved. From the first minute, the barrage of abuse that me and the rest of my team and the players received directly behind the dugout was astonishing,” he said.
“No protection, encroachment, spitting and then it takes the worst remark of all, a racist remark for someone to stand up and do something about it.
“I’m emotional. This game never fails to disappoint me at times and I’m even more amazed that the announcement goes through the tannoy to say that the two sets of supporters weren’t behaving. They weren’t our supporters. Our supporters, yes, stepped onto the pitch to support our team and I’m not saying that’s true – but our supporters didn’t behave that way so I was really disappointed with that too.
“I feel for Stephen (Robinson) because his team fought hard and it’s no mark against him in any way. He was exceptional on the touchline and completely understanding.
“When we came into the locker room with the break, we talked and said it can’t overflow and we can’t lose our own discipline. As upset, disappointed and emotional as we are, we have to channel that. in 10 minutes of football and giving it our all and the players did it incredibly well.
“I’m a little emotional because they really came together and they got something out of this game, but the way they stuck together, if one of us gets abused, we’re all abused and we all stuck together, we all did the right thing and until that was knocked out of the game, it never really fails to disappoint me.”
Bolton chairman Sharon Brittan later said in a statement: “I fully support the actions of Ian and the rest of the staff, who were abused throughout the game.
“However, when this abuse turned racist, he had no choice but to take a stand against these totally unacceptable and shameful actions by a minority of Morecambe supporters.
“I implore Morecambe Football Club to take this matter very seriously as football must play its part in eradicating all forms of hatred and discrimination from society.
“Football is a game for everyone and what we have witnessed today is shocking. We will ensure that our colleagues who have been abused receive the care and support they need.”
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