Charlton unable to confirm if club passed on offer of help from Kick It Out

By Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
PA Media: Sport

Charlton have been unable to confirm whether or not they passed on an offer of support from Kick It Out to Jonathan Leko in his racism case against Kiko Casilla.

Leko released a statement via his parent club West Brom on Wednesday night which was heavily critical of Kick It Out over its lack of support during the case, which finally concluded last week when Casilla was found guilty and banned for eight matches.

The anti-discrimination body said on Thursday it had gone through the “proper channels” by contacting staff at Charlton, who Leko was with on loan, soon after he reported racist abuse directed towards him by Leeds goalkeeper Casilla during a Championship match on September 28.

Scroll to continue with content

It is understood Kick It Out contacted two members of staff at Charlton. However, Leko is adamant he received absolutely no contact from Kick It Out, which would indicate the message was not passed on by Addicks staff.

Charlton would not confirm whether the message had been passed on or not, but said in a short statement: “Our priority throughout that time was to support Jonathan Leko and Macauley Bonne through the process.”

Kick It Out still face criticism over not following up on why it had had no response to its initial offer, but it is understood it was given the impression that its input was not required.

Leko’s statement also referred to his unhappiness with the length of time the disciplinary process took – 22 weeks from allegation to conclusion.

Leko’s comments about the time the process had taken were seen as a criticism of the Football Association, which oversees disciplinary matters in the domestic game.

The gathering of evidence, both oral and written, can take a considerable amount of time and finding a hearing date which works for all members of the independent panel, legal representatives and witnesses can also cause delays.

Kick It Out, for its part, defended its position on Thursday by saying: “Kick It Out did reach out via the proper channels to Charlton within days of the incident to offer our support to Jonathan Leko and we extend him our sympathy as he did not receive the appropriate support he needed during this stressful experience.

“We can confirm that we have not heard from Kiko Casilla or Leeds United as yet, however we extend an olive branch to him and the club to provide practical support and continued opportunities for re-education.”

Leko also criticised the Professional Footballers’ Association for failing to offer support, with the union issuing an apology to the player on Wednesday night.

Casilla was alleged to have shouted “you f****** n*****” at Leko during a match at Charlton last year, according to the written reasons in the case which were published on Tuesday.

Those exact words were clearly heard by Leko and team-mate Macauley Bonne, the commission was told.

Casilla claimed he could not have used the term ‘n*****’ because he did not know what it meant due to his poor English.

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer admitted it had been a tough time for Leko, insisting he has had the support of the London club “since day one”.

“You could see he wasn’t himself,” the Addicks boss said.

“He’s a bubbly and confident lad and he was a bit quiet for a while after. But the group got him through that and he was himself again.

“While he was here, everyone was around to support him. The most important thing now is that it’s been dealt with and we can move on.”

What to read next