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Fan charged over Mensah abuse

Ghana and Lyon's John Mensah
Ghana's John Mensah was racially abused while playing for Lyon
A Le Havre supporter who admitted making racist insults at Ghana and Lyon defender John Mensah has been charged and released on bail.

The 21-year-old man risks up to six months in prison and a fine after being arrested by police for racist chanting during the French Ligue 1 match on Sunday at Lyon's Gerland stadium.

The man admitted insulting Mensah and apologised for his actions to police.

A number of Lyon's black players were abused but Mensah was worst affected, seeing red after picking up two second-half yellow cards.

Lyon coach Claude Puel said he blamed himself for Mensah's dismissal during the French champions' 3-1 win over Le Havre.

"It's my fault - I should have taken him off beforehand," Puel explained.

"John was shocked, he heard some scandalous words.

"I should perhaps have withdrawn him earlier - we tried to keep him on the pitch as I thought he had got over it."

Mensah was sent off for a second bookable offence 20 minutes from time as Lyon kept up the pace in the French league, which they lead by four points from Paris St Germain.

Mensah's club president Michel Aulas said he also had sympathy for the abused Ghanaian.

"Right from the warm-up, Le Havre fans made racist insults towards John Mensah but also Kader Keita, Frederic Piquionne and Karim Benzema," Aulas said.

"John took it very badly. It went on throughout the game and ensured he had a rebellious attitude.

"Doubtless we as a club made a mistake in not passing on to the match delegates and the referee what was going on.

"We did make a number of stadium announcements," said Aulas, who described the abuse as "monkey noises".

"We saw John was in great psychological difficulty after he was dismissed and that's why I left the stand to reason with him - not as a mark of disrespect to Le Havre."

Abdul Kader Keita went on to score Lyon's second goal.

Last season, 14 football supporters were arrested for abuse-related offences at French league games according to official figures.

In several cases, those responsible were handed jail terms of several months.

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see also
Bastia face sanctions for racism
23 Feb 08 |  African
Kebe in racist abuse claim
17 Sep 07 |  African
Referee unaware of Ouaddou abuse
18 Feb 08 |  African


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