Police make arrest over alleged racist abuse of Arsenal substitutes at Leeds

The Football Association is set to investigate the alleged racist abuse directed at Arsenal’s bench by a Leeds fan during Saturday’s Premier League game.

West Yorkshire police made one arrest following allegations that racist abuse was directed at the Arsenal dugout from among the home crowd in the first half of their 4-1 win at Leeds. Officers spoke to several of the Arsenal substitutes about the incident by the side of the pitch after full time and will receive statements from the club and the individuals involved.

Leeds said in a statement last night that the club “confirms an investigation into claims of racism during the first half of our game with Arsenal is under way, and that one arrest has been made in connection to the allegation. Racism will not be tolerated at Leeds United and any supporter found to be using racist language will be subject to a life time ban for all Leeds United games.”

The alleged abuse is understood to have been aimed toward Nuno Tavares and Nicolas Pépé as they warmed up during the first half, with play briefly pausing while the match officials were informed.

“Yes, unfortunately I can confirm that,” said Mikel Arteta when asked about the investigation. “It was reported to the stadium manager and then the authorities will deal with the situation. It was a player sitting on the bench. One of the players heard those comments. It was a single incident, it was reported and now the authorities will have to work with the clubs to understand what happened.”

One of the substitutes, Rob Holding, appeared to alert the officials to the incident in the 34th minute, leading to a conversation between representatives of both clubs and the referee Andre Marriner. Police could later be seen talking to those apparently in earshot at the game’s conclusion.

Arteta also confirmed that Albert Sambi Lokonga and Pablo Marí have tested positive for Covid-19. Arsenal’s training ground was closed on Thursday for a deep clean and he was able to name an unchanged starting XI for their third win in a week.