UEFA have responded to Manchester City’s claims that two of their players were racially abused during the Europa League match at Porto by opening disciplinary proceedings against the Portuguese club.
City lodged a written complaint with European football’s governing body after their 2-1 victory at the Estadio Dragao last week There were suspected outbreaks of monkey chanting aimed at Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure during last Thursday’s match. It appeared most noticeable when Balotelli was substituted 12 minutes from the end.
UEFA announced in a statement: ‘Following a complaint lodged by Manchester City FC, UEFA has today opened disciplinary proceedings against FC Porto for the improper conduct of supporters (article 11 bis of the UEFA disciplinary degulations) during their UEFA Europa League round of 32 first-leg match against Manchester City FC last week.
‘The UEFA control and disciplinary body will deal with the case on 29 March.’Porto coach Vitor Pereira and forward Hulk claimed there may have been a misunderstanding when asked about the matter.
The pair both believed the home fans may have been chanting, ‘Hulk, Hulk, Hulk’ at the club’s star Brazilian player during the game.Pereira, speaking at a press conference as the Porto squad visited the Etihad Stadium ahead of the second leg of the tie on Wednesday, said: ‘What I have to say on that, is that normally in our league and our stadiums we don’t have problems like that regarding racism.
‘In my opinion it was probably a misunderstanding and the authorities will deal with it. I am sure it will be sorted out.’When asked further, Pereira, speaking through a translator, said: ‘I have no comment to make regarding the racism point. I have not heard any comments about that.
‘We have Hulk here and he can comment. He is a very good forward.‘I am normally focused on the match and I have not heard any racist comments at all.’Hulk, who was also present at the press conference, said: ‘I did not notice any racist abuse, as the manager said.
‘In our stadium I always hear this, “Hulk, Hulk, Hulk”, particularly as I am in charge of the corners. It is our supporters.’The matter overshadowed a fine performance by City as they came from behind to secure a first-leg advantage.
City manager Roberto Mancini did not hear any of the alleged abuse during the game but a complaint was made after Balotelli reported it to a club official.
Mancini was asked about the issue when he gave his pre-match press conference this morning. He said: ‘I don’t know what has happened. I was concentrating on the game and I didn’t hear this. ‘But everywhere there are some not clever people, this is life.’
When asked if Balotelli had been upset, he said: ‘I think Mario for this is strong enough. This was the culture sometimes in Italy or France. Mario is strong.’
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