'Life ban' call over racial abuse of Mohamed Salah

Salah was taunted during Liverpool's 1-1 draw at West Ham. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
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'Life ban' call over racial abuse of Mohamed Salah

  • Police given evidence after an investigation into Islamophobic abuse shouted at Egyptian ace.
  • Football Against Racism in Europe call for life bans for those found guilty of racial abuse.

LONDON: West Ham United have handed evidence to the police after completing an investigation into Islamophobic abuse shouted at Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah during their Premier League clash at the London Stadium
on Monday.
A video emerged on social media in which audible racial slurs were directed at the Egypt and Reds star man as he was taking a corner. The match finished in a 1-1 draw.
The user who posted the video on Twitter said: “I went to watch West Ham vs Liverpool and I was disgusted by what I was hearing. People like this deserve no place in our society let alone football matches.”
The Metropolitan Police had said that officers were in the process of reviewing the footage and West Ham have now revealed that they have given all of their evidence to the police.
Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini has demanded a life ban for the culprits, and a West Ham statement said: “After a thorough and immediate investigation following the abhorrent racist abuse aimed at Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah on Monday night, West Ham United can confirm that it has handed evidence to the Metropolitan Police.
“The Club is unequivocal in its stance — such abuse will not be tolerated. There is no place or excuse for this kind of behavior.”
While there have undoubtedly been great strides taken in football to tackle racist abuse from the stands, the sorry Salah abuse follows allegations of discriminatory chanting by Chelsea and Millwall supporters in recent weeks.
Piara Powar, the executive director of anti-discrimination charity FARE ((Football Against Racism in Europe), described the number of recent incidents of reported racism as “alarming”, and added that closing stadiums may be the only logical next step in combating abuse.
“The number and frequency of recent incidents in England is quite alarming,” Powar said. “Football seems to have a rump of fans who have trouble accepting the diversity of our country. I also think it points to the divisions that have opened up in the UK since Brexit.
“I think the FA must get a grip on the problem,” Powar added. “They do a lot of good work, but they should use the powers they have to close stadiums, and ban and fine clubs. The FA regulations allow for it, but the measures are rarely used.”
Since his move to Liverpool Salah has been a transformative figure, breaking down barriers. Go to Anfield and, once the rousing rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has died down, it is likely you will next hear the Liverpool fans’ hymn to Salah. Sung to the tune of “Good Enough” by Britpop band Dodgy, it goes like this: “If he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim, too.” That he has been welcomed with open arms and lauded — albeit in a city with a tradition of tolerance — is to be applauded, not least at a time when Islamaphobic attacks in the UK are on the rise.
Salah was last year named PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year after he scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season.
The Egyptian ace will be key in the Reds’ search for their first league title since 1990, Liverpool face Bournemouth at home today.


Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

Updated 20 February 2019
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Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

  • Five-time world champion feeling confident of a sixth crown ahead of new season.
  • Pre-season testing going well in Barcelona.

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton has warned his rivals they had better get ready to catch his dust as he is feeling “better than ever” ahead of the season.
The 34-year-old Briton enjoyed a near flawless run to secure his fifth drivers’ title last year. He won 11 of the 21 races to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with two races to spare, and he expects the Italian marque to once again keep him on his toes.
“Ferrari are very strong,” Hamilton said in Barcelona on the third day of pre-season testing.
“It appears they have a better package than last year, which means it will be a bigger challenge for us.
“In the last few years, Ferrari has looked good from the very beginning so that’s to be expected.”
But he said it would be a mistake to draw any hard and fast conclusions from the evidence thrown up by testing.
“We’ll have a better idea I guess this time next week where we stand but still then we won’t know what fuel loads everybody is on and who is showing their cars and who isn’t.”
Hamilton, with a new two-year deal that will earn him £40 million ($52 million) a season, is buzzing after the winter recess.
“I feel in the best shape that I’ve been in,” he assured his fans, as he embarks on his quest for a sixth championship and record sixth consecutive constructors’ crown for Mercedes.
On a sixth title he shrugged: “I am not even focusing on that. It’s a new season, a new year, a new chapter and we have to approach like it’s our first.
“We’re going for number one, that’s how I approach it.
“But it’s not something that I allow my peers to talk about. It’s not what we are here for to focus on that number.”
He dismissed out of hand any notion of complacency setting in at his all-conquering team.
“We are always driven to do something new and to break boundaries and do stuff that no one else has done before but we are fully aware of the work that it will take to deliver something like that and it’s by no means like ‘yeah we are going for the sixth’ like it’s a relaxed thing.
“It’s not like that.”
Hamilton’s bid for title number six begins at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17.