Crystal Palace’s club doctor has complained of being racially abused before the team’s game with Bournemouth at Selhurst Park.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal was making his way to the game with his children when he says they were called ‘P*****’ by a young child.
Iqbal took to Twitter to detail abuse he said left him ‘devastated and speechless.’
“Taking my 2 youngest kids to their first ever game at Selhurst Park and walking a few hundred yards from the stadium a 3 year old shouted to his dad – ‘look daddy there’s some p****’. His dad attempted to scold him. Racism is not just a football problem,” he tweeted.
“I didn’t know how to react. I couldn’t tell off the 3 y old kid. Should I have said something to the dad while my 2 young kids were there? Anyway game to prepare for and wonder if the kid and his parents will be in the crowd….”
After the game Iqbal posted more messages in which he said he was hurt by his child asking questions about the abuse.
“The thing that upsets me most is that my 12-year-old daughter came to me to ask if I’d heard it and I didn’t know what to say.
“Should I have told off the dad? I was just gobsmacked. Again I reiterate that this is not because of football but a society issue. Anyway taking the kids on the pitch.”
The South London club were quick to issue a statement backing Iqbal.
“We utterly deplore the racist comments made to our club doctor while he was heading to today’s match with his children.” the statement opened
“It must have been an awful experience for him and his family and this disgraceful incident shows that the scourge of racism remains in our society.
“Crystal Palace Football Club is committed to inclusivity and diversity and we will offer Dr Zaf our full support if he chooses to take the matter further.”
Iqbal was later at pains to hammer home his point that the abuse was not suffered in the stadium itself but in the streets surrounding the ground.
He also echoed Manchester City star Raheem Sterling in calling-out "certain" UK media outlets for stoking racial bias, pointing to racism as a societal problem.
To make an already unpleasant day worse, I see this. This was nothing to do with @CPFC . This was streets away from the stadium, when I dropped my kids off at a friends, who took them to the game while I worked. This is society and certain media makes this worse @DailyMailUK pic.twitter.com/eMW7f0cDXO— DrZaf (@sportsdrzaf) May 12, 2019