Arrest made in investigation of racism directed toward United players in Manchester derby

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

Update (10:46 a.m. ET, Dec. 8)

Greater Manchester Police announced they had arrested a man on Sunday “on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order” from Saturday’s Manchester derby.

Superintendent Chris Hill said in a statement that he was thankful for the public support of the incident.

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“Racism of any kind has no place in football or our society and I hope this arrest shows that we are taking this matter extremely seriously,” Hill said.

Original story (Dec. 7)

What should have been just another wild Manchester derby on Saturday was instead marred by ugly fan behavior when Manchester City fans threw objects and allegedly hurled racist abuse at a pair of black Manchester United players.

Fans pelted the field with lighters midway through the second half, and at least one hit midfielder Fred when he was lining up for a corner kick. Video also widely circulated from the broadcast of a fan making racist monkey gestures towards Fred and possibly teammate Jesse Lingard.

Manchester City acknowledged both the thrown objects and the video of “racial gestures” and said it is working with Greater Manchester Police to identify the individuals who were involved.

“The club operates a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind,” Manchester City said in a statement, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life.”

Manchester and the United Kingdom as a whole are far from the only places to experience racism. It’s something that’s plagued soccer across Europe and beyond. In fact, it became such a problem in Italy that prime minister Giuseppe Conte spoke out in favor of banning fans who spread hate for life.

Manchester City is investigating racist abuse from a fan toward Manchester United's Fred (pictured) and Jesse Lingard. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)
Manchester City is investigating racist abuse from a fan toward Manchester United's Fred (pictured) and Jesse Lingard. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

Jesse Lingard and Fred speak out after the match

Fred, a member of the Brazilian national team, spoke to ESPN Brazil after Saturday’s match, which Manchester United won 2-1:

“Unfortunately, we are still in a backward society. [It is a shame] we still have to live with that in 2019. On the field, I didn't see anything. I saw it only in the locker room afterwards.

“Unfortunately, this is happening in some stadiums. It happened here, it happened in Ukraine with some friends. It’s sad, but we have to keep our heads up and forget about that. We can’t give them any attention because that’s all they want. I spoke to the referee after the match, they will do something about it and that’s all.”

This closely mirrors comments made by Inter Milan Striker Romelu Lukaku, who infamously faced racist chants in September against Calgiari. Lukaku said “we’re going backwards” and called on fans to “keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone.”

Lingard made his own comments on social media when he called out the abusive Man City fans. He has been outspoken several times in the past about confronting fans’ racism in partnerships with the Professional Footballers’ Association and EA Sports.

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