Uefa rebuked for dropping Rhian Brewster racism claim against Spartak captain

Kick It Out, English football’s main anti-racism group, has heavily criticised Uefa and described itself as “deeply disappointed” that the latest investigation involving alleged abuse against the England Under-17s World Cup winner Rhian Brewster has been dropped due to lack of evidence against the Spartak Moscow player who was accused.

Uefa’s decision not to punish Leonid Mironov is the latest disappointment for Brewster after a series of alleged incidents that compelled Liverpool’s 17-year-old striker, with the support of his club, to approach the Guardian in December for an interview in which he said he had personally experienced racial abuse, or witnessed it happening to a team-mate, seven times in his young career, including five occasions in the previous seven months.

Mironov was accused of racially abusing his opponent during a Uefa Youth League tie in December but the Russian player denied the allegation and Uefa’s investigation, which involved interviewing two match officials and five players from either side, could not find anybody else who heard the alleged words. Uefa has specified that it believes Brewster made the allegation “in complete good faith” but will not take any action on the basis it was one man’s words against another.

In a statement Kick It Out said: “The organisation is deeply disappointed with the findings of the independent investigation, with this outcome likely to give further encouragement to those who wish to be abusive in the sport.

“Kick It Out believes there are issues with clubs, such as Spartak Moscow, who have been involved in several alleged racist incidents in recent years, receiving little or no discouragement by national and international football authorities in response to allegations of racism and discrimination. This underlying issue is compounded with any action taken, in relation to racist or discriminatory incidents, rarely being appropriate. This current situation is intolerable.”

Spartak were previously ordered to close 500 seats and display an anti‑racism banner after their fans subjected one of Brewster’s team‑mates, the Nigeria-born Bobby Adekanye, to monkey chants during a match in Moscow.

Brewster’s other allegations include an incident in the World Cup final, when one of Spain’s under-19 players was alleged to have abused Morgan Gibbs-White, and in his interview with the Guardian he accused Uefa and Fifa of not doing enough to tackle the matters he was raising.

“We would like to place on record our admiration for the courage shown by Rhian Brewster throughout this process and commend his exemplary conduct,” a Liverpool spokesman said. “The club is very proud of the maturity, dignity and leadership Rhian has displayed in bringing focus to this issue and he will continue to receive our full support. In keeping with Rhian’s stance, the club encourages football’s governing bodies to facilitate the most robust processes possible to identify and tackle discrimination in the game at all ages.”

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