The young attacker admits he was made to feel like he had done something wrong by flagging the incident
West Brom‘s Jonathan Leko has conceded he may think twice about reporting racism in the future after the prolonged process that has ultimately seen Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla banned for eight games.
Casilla was found guilty of using racist language towards Leko in September 2019 during a Championship match and was handed his suspension on Friday.
For Leko, the drawn-out nature of the proceedings combined with the lack of support he received has left him unsure over whether he would report such incidents moving forward.
“I am naturally relieved that the process is now complete and the FA have upheld what I have always known to be true – that I was racially abused by Kiko Casilla in a manner which shocked me and still angers and upsets me to this day,” Leko said in a statement.
“I have been disappointed with the amount of time it has taken to reach this point. Knowing what occurred in the game that day, it has been difficult to watch Kiko Casilla continue to play for such a lengthy period as if nothing had happened.
“I would urge the game’s governing bodies to look into their own processes when such incidents are reported. It was 22 weeks between the incident and the hearing during which I had minimal contact from the PFA, of which I am a member, and no contact in the way of support from leading anti-racism bodies such as ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism The Red Card’. Some support or guidance would have been very welcome.
“By bringing the incident to the referee’s attention immediately, I was only doing what I have been educated to do throughout my career. But I found the hearing, at which I was made to feel I had done something wrong, extremely stressful.
“It made me question whether I would be prepared to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future. I certainly would think twice about how to advise another player placed in the same situation.
“From the outset, all I have done is report something that had to be challenged and exposed for what it is – racial abuse. I now want to put the episode behind me and concentrate on recovering from my injury to be ready for next season.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have apologised for any lack of support offered to Leko and claim they did reach out to Leko’s club at the time of the incident but didn’t hear back from the player.