'I didn't know how to react' - Arsenal defender Osei-Tutu opens up on racist abuse

Jordi Osei-Tutu VfL Bochum 2019/20

Jordi Osei-Tutu was just 42 minutes into his second appearance for VfL Bochum when he suddenly sat down on the turf with tears in his eyes during a pre-season friendly against St Gallen.

Initially, no-one knew what was going on, but things soon became clear. The 20-year-old Arsenal defender had just been racially abused.

Osei-Tutu, who had just moved to Bochum on loan, was incensed. When the referee stopped play he sprung to his feet and made his way off the pitch with his new team-mates trying to console him.

“It had never happened to me before so I didn’t really know how to react to it.,” Osei-Tutu exclusively told Goal.

“It’s the first time I’ve experienced anything like that.”

Video footage of what happened was soon posted on social media - with the football community quickly rallying round the Gunners right-back, who did return to the pitch to play the second half of the game.

Both Arsenal and Bochum released statements within 24 hours condemning what had gone on.

“Jordi Osei-Tutu received unacceptable racial abuse playing for VfL Bochum during a pre-season friendly match against Swiss club St Gallen,” an Arsenal statement read.

Jordi Osei-Tuto VfL Bochum 2019/20

"We are working closely with Bochum and Jordi and we are giving him our full support. Racism has no place in our game and we do not tolerate any form of discrimination."

“Both VfL and Arsenal stand by Jordi and assure him of their full support,” added the Bochum statement.

"We do not tolerate any form of discrimination. Racism has no place in our game."

It wasn’t just the two clubs that rallied round Osei-Tutu, however, as players from across Europe got in touch with the defender.

“The support was crazy from everyone,” he said.

“Everyone at Bochum and Arsenal were all extremely helpful and it wasn’t just people I knew who were supporting me, but people from around the world.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 2019-20Getty Images

“A lot of players reached out. My Arsenal team-mates, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan and [Alex] Iwobi.

“Then there was Moise Kean and Rabbi [Matondo] from Schalke. Players from all over the place. It was nice to see.”

Given he had just arrived at Bochum, it would have been easy for the incident to lead to the youngster questioning whether he should return to England.

But that never came into his thinking, despite receiving floods of messages from fans on social media telling him to come home.

“I was seeing a lot of comments saying 'come back to Arsenal', but that was never in my mind,” he said. “I just saw it as something that happened and that I had to move on from.

“Afterwards I got on the phone to my dad and he said it’s something you experience in life. It’s happened to him before and he said 'you’ve just got to laugh it off, continue playing your game and don’t let anything upset you'.

“So I just tried to forget about it so it didn’t play on my mind afterwards, which I think I did well.”