HNK Rijeka’s official reaction to Manchester City’s racism allegation

HNK Rijeka’s official reaction to Manchester City’s racism allegation

HNK Rijeka issued an official statement in response to allegations in the media in relation to the alleged incident in the match in Novigrad against Manchester City. We have translated Rijeka’s response to English and you can read it below. We have asked Manchester City to comment but have not yet received a response from their Communication Officer.

HNK Rijeka unequivocally rejects any possibility that any member of Rijeka Reserves squad participated in assaulting Manchester City players on racial, religious or ethnic grounds during a friendly match played in Novigrad.

HNK Rijeka Academy includes approximately 400 children and youth in categories from U6 to U19, who are coached and mentored on a daily basis by professional coaches, most of whom are former players with an enviable national and international playing career.

HNK Rijeka is owned by Social Sports Foundation, based in the Netherlands, which also owns a football academy in Abuja, Nigeria. Cooperation and coordination with Abuja academy is a very important segment of HNK Rijeka Academy, and two professional coaches from Rijeka are based in Abuja full-time. In fact, over the past two years, 12 Nigerian players have come to Rijeka, most of whom are currently in the senior or in the reserve (U19) squad.

We consider serious allegations against us by Manchester City as a move to cover up a brutal foul by a City player which resulted in the same player being sent off, and was followed by a hasty and illogical decision by Manchester City coaching staff to withdraw the team from the field. We were utterly surprised by an abrupt move by a staff member of a club with such a reputable stature. Up until the brutal foul by a Manchester City player and the ensuing expulsion, the match, although dominated by Rijeka, was fiercely contested but played in a sporting manner. As a reminder, Rijeka and Manchester City also played a friendly match last year with no incidents whatsoever and which ended in a handshake.

We unequivocally reject any allegation of racism on behalf of any of our players or staff members. We also want to point out that six Nigerian players were in our team during the match against Manchester City. These are the very same players who had come from the aforementioned Abuja Football Academy. These and other Nigerian players who have been in the club over the past two years have been extremely well accepted as members of the community. They live and train together with our other players and they can attest that they have never experienced any discomfort caused by teammates or the general public in Rijeka.

HNK Rijeka, in cooperation with FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), has been supporting the campaign against racism for years and we strongly condemn any such incident. In fact, due to our long-standing commitment against any form of discrimination we are shocked by harsh and unsubstantiated accusations against us that we explicitly reject.

HNK Rijeka is a club with long history through which it has competed in numerous national and international competitions, at times achieving outstanding results. During its long history, the club has always aimed to develop its young players’ abilities both on and off the pitch. Today, HNK Rijeka is a club that adheres to the highest European standards. The club’s stature is growing both on and off the field and the club is a regular participant in UEFA competitions. We are determined not to allow for anyone to devalue and stain our name and reputation that we worked so hard to establish over the past decades.

Translated by V. Vivoda.



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