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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Slovaks apologise for racism
Emile Heskey
Heskey has been praised for his response
Slovakia's football association has apologised to its English counterpart for the racist chants aimed at England's black players during Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier in Bratislava.

And it will also be sending personal letters to Emile Heskey and Ashley Cole, according to the English FA.

Slovak supporters hurled abuse and made monkey noises at striker Heskey and defender Cole, but Slovak FA president Frantisek Laurinec said the racism was not representative of the nation's fans as a whole.


We heard the racist stuff because it just wasn't in one section of the stadium, it was virtually the whole ground
Emile Heskey

"This was proved when English player Emile Heskey was leaving the field, the Slovak audience spontaneously applauded him for his performance during the game," said Laurinec.

"SFA apologises for all the statements and behaviour that negatively affected the atmosphere of this international match, and is prepared to cooperate actively in investigating the case."

Heskey said that the racist abuse was the worst he had been subjected during his career.

"Uefa will have to do something," said Heskey.

"You could hear the abuse. It was very loud, especially in the second half. Police were around but they seemed to be doing nothing about it so what can you do?

"We heard the racist stuff because it just wasn't in one section of the stadium, it was virtually the whole ground.

"A lot was said in the dressing room, they (the players) could not believe it.

"At club level we never get that. Playing in Europe we get bits but that was some of the worst stuff we have been subjected to.

"I had the same sort of thing during an Under-21 game against Yugoslavia in Barcelona a few years back but that was a few people in a stadium with not many people in it.

"You feel hurt that they are looking at you for your colour, not you as a person.

"It's very hard when that's happening but sometimes you've just got to shut it out and try to put in a good performance. You go out to win the games and that gets to them."

Europe's governing body Uefa has said it is unlikely to stop Slovak fans from travelling to England for the return leg.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Newsnight's Robin Denselow
"Racism in football is back on the agenda"
England's Emile Heskey
"The chants do get to you"
FIFA spokesman Marcus Siegler
"I don't support a boycott"
 VOTE RESULTS
How should Uefa punish Slovakia?

Fine
 17.20% 

Close ground
 25.57% 

Dock points
 17.16% 

Tournament ban
 40.07% 

19780 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Judgement day

Slovakia madness

Football's ugly face
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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