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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 14:25 GMT
Kia withdraws FC Brussels deal
Zola Matumona
Matumona wants to leave FC Brussels following the incident

The Kia motor company withdrew as main sponsor of Belgian side FC Brussels on Friday after a row between the club chairman and its DR Congo star Zola Matumona.

The midfielder plans to scrap his contract with the club, claiming he was racially insulted by team chairman Johan Vermeersch early this week.

Vermeersch has admitted he had "a very lively exchange" with the midfielder earlier this week after a string of disappointing results, but the chairman denied racism.

However Kia, the South Korean car company, said there were indications of racism and announced its immediate withdrawal from the club.

FC Brussels' deal with Kia Motors Belgium involves US$230,000 a year and 20 vehicles.

The Asian outfit also sponsors the Belgian national team.

"That for us is really a bridge too far," said Marc Coopmans, communications manager for Kia Motors Belgium.

"Kia Motors Belgium and Kia Motors as such cannot associate their image, their principles, their values, with a club which is represented by its president in such a way."

Coopmans said 10 percent of employees at Kia Motors Belgium were of non-European origin, "so it's really a touchy thing for us".

Laurent Denis, who represents Matumona, remained steadfast that his client was racially insulted during the team meeting.

Denis said he had legal ground to demand the immediate end to Matumona's contract.

Kia said it had already warned Vermeersch over his abrasive style.

With eight losses in 11 matches, FC Brussels has fallen into the relegation zone of the first division.

Matumona in racist abuse claim
02 Nov 07 |  African


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