Fifa investigates after Rhian Brewster tells of racist abuse in Under-17 World Cup final

Fifa has opened an investigation after Rhian Brewster told the Guardian his England team-mate Morgan Gibbs-White was racially abused by a Spanish opponent during the Under-17 World Cup final.

Brewster made the allegation in an interview with the Guardian last week. The 17-year-old Liverpool player said he had personally experienced racial abuse or witnessed it on a football pitch seven times, including five occasions in the past seven months.

Two of those alleged incidents – all against overseas opposition – took place on England duty, with the most recent being the abuse allegedly directed at Gibbs-White in the 5-2 victory against Spain in Kolkata in October.

A Fifa spokesperson told Press Association Sport it had recently received a complaint from the Football Association and “is now analysing and gathering evidence”.

Brewster told the Guardian that Gibbs-White was called “a monkey” by a Spanish player after an incident in Spain’s penalty box.

Brewster said: “It was a goal kick and I was getting into position. ‘Morgan,’ I said, ‘did you hear that?’ He said: ‘Yeah, yeah, I thought I was the only one.’”

Later in the game, Brewster got involved in an argument with a Spain player who felt England were not winning “respectfully”.

“I said: ‘How can you tell us to win respectfully when one of your players has been racist? What about your team-mate being respectful to us?’”

The FA is understood to have flagged up the incident at the time and followed that up with additional evidence in November.

For Brewster, the alleged racial incident was all too common and another example of how the game’s fine words on fighting discrimination are often not backed up by strong deeds.

The FA has complained to Uefa about an incident that took place in a game against Ukraine at the European Under-17 Championship last May, and Liverpool have also complained to the European body about two incidents involving Spartak Moscow and one with Sevilla in the Uefa Youth League.

The complaints from the FA about the Ukraine game and Liverpool’s on the Sevilla game were not upheld because of a lack of evidence but Spartak were forced to close 500 seats in their academy stadium for their next game because of monkey chants directed at Liverpool’s Bobby Adekanye in September.

The second Liverpool complaint against Spartak – related to their Youth League match at Prenton Park in December – has not been resolved but the player in question, the captain Leonid Mironov, has denied directing a foul-mouthed and racist tirade at Brewster.

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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