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FIFA probes race taunts against Heskey

17 September 2008 16:20

LONDON, Sept 17, 2008 (AFP) - World football's ruling body FIFA is investigating claims that England striker Emile Heskey was racially abused by Croatia fans during the sides' World Cup qualifier last week.

According to a report on the BBC, FIFA said it began disciplinary proceedings after receiving an official complaint from England's Football Association on Tuesday.

En route to an eventual 4-1 victory for England, Heskey was taunted with monkey chants from a section of the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb when he was booked for fouling Niko Kovac.

Heskey later branded the fans "ignorant people" and said he ignored them.

"You have to let the people above deal with that and I will carry on playing my game," added the Wigan striker.

The FA spoke to Heskey after the match and decided to act.

"We can confirm that we will be making a report to FIFA about the racist chanting aimed at Emile Heskey by some Croatia fans during the World Cup qualifying game in Zagreb," an FA spokesman told the BBC.

"The FA and the England team are determined to do all they can to eradicate any form of racism from football and society."

It is not the first time Croatia's fans have been sanctioned for racist abuse, nor the first time Heskey has been a target.

Croatia were given a small fine during Euro 2008 for racist abuse from their fans during their game against Turkey.

Heskey has been racially abused while playing for England in Slovakia in 2002, while Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ashley Cole were subjected to monkey chants in a friendly against Spain in Madrid in 2004.

Wigan manager Steve Bruce said Heskey would not be perturbed by the incident, and backed the FA's decision to report it to FIFA.

"He'll just shrug his shoulders and let other people deal with it," said Bruce.

"The FA are right to issue their concerns about it because we thought we'd seen the back of that years ago."

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