English-born Nigerian striker, Adebayo Akinfenwa, who plays for Wycombe Wanderers has revealed he was racially abused during Monday’s League One play-off match against Fleetwood.
The 38-year-old striker said he was repeatedly called a ‘Fat Water Buffalo’ by a ‘representative of the opposition,’ after helping his side earn a 2-2 draw and a 6-3 aggregate victory in the League One play-off semi-final.
In a statement he released on Wednesday night, Juy 8, Akinfenwa, who suffered racist abuse earlier in his career while playing in Lithuania wrote:
“Monday night was one of the highlights of my career with Wycombe so far as we secured our place in the League One play-off final at Wembley. However, what should have been an evening of joy and excitement quickly turned into one of anger and frustration.
“Historically I have been subjected to and have experienced abuse across a number of areas and about many things, including my size but also about the colour of my skin.
“Regardless of whether or not there was deliberate racial intent by using that language, if we are to make real and long-standing change then we must strive to educate each other about these issues.”
“Following the conclusion of the game, I learned that a representative of the opposition had repeatedly referred to me as a Fat ‘Water Buffalo’ in a derogatory tone.
“Regardless of whether or not there was deliberate racial intent by using that language and irrespective of the context in which it was used, if we are to make real and long-standing change then we must strive to educate each other about these issues.
“We must work together to ensure those who have not and do not face racial prejudice understand that what may appear to them to be a throwaway remark can have such a big and hurtful impact.
“A Water Buffalo is a dark animal and as a black man I believe that you have dehumanised me, by associating me with a dark animal, as this was said in a derogatory manner.
“I feel passionately around raising this because we as a sport and as society must wake up. We must do more.
“We must educate ourselves and understand the potential repercussions of using such language and be aware of the hurt it can cause.
“The bigger issue to me would be the lack of understanding as to why calling me this term would not be hurtful to me as a black man, and this must change.
“Taking a knee, supporting social media campaigns and wearing a logo on our kits is a start, but it is not enough. It will not result in real and long standing change.
“The real work must start now and the only way to move forward collectively is through education.
“We must all play our part. #BlackLivesMatter.”
A statement from Wycombe said: “The club fully stands by its players and supports all campaigns to end discrimination.”
The Football Association has confirmed they are investigating the incident.
An FA spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of the allegations and will be investigating the matter.”