Roman Zozulya: Match abandoned after alleged Nazi chants by fans

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ALBACETE, SPAIN - JUNE 16: Roman Zozulia of Albacete reacts during the LaLiga 123 match between Albacete and Mallorca at Carlos Belmonte Stadium on June 16, 2019 in Albacete, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Roman Zozulia of Albacete (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

The Spanish second tier match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete was called off on Sunday after a player was allegedly called a Nazi by fans.

Albacete’s Ukrainian striker Roman Zozulya was reportedly targeted by a section of Rayo fans, with referee José Antonio López Toca abandoning the match at half time.

Zozulya previously signed for Rayo on loan from Seville-based Real Betis in 2017. But the deal was canceled after protests by Rayo fans who accused Zozulya of having far-right links, something the player has always strenuously denied and puts down to a misunderstanding by a journalist when he first arrived in Spain.

Sunday’s match at Rayo’s Campo de Futbol de Vallecas stadium remained goalless when it was abandoned, although Albacete had been reduced to 10 men.

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Victor Varela, Albacete’s vice president, told his club’s website that Zozulya had been “crying for everything that was happening and has arrived in the locker room completely shattered, so I think we have all made the right decision to defend our football and our competition”.

“I can only say that Roman, since he arrived in Albacete, has had exemplary behaviour and, besides being a great footballer, he is a great team-mate.”

Rayo manager Raul Martin Presa said in comments carried by his club’s Twitter feed that it was “a very sad night for Rayo and sport. We want to condemn sharply the insults that a section of the fans, located in the background, has uttered to a rival player.

“I have spoken with Zozulya and I have given him a hug, because he is a human being and deserves respect.”

A statement from La Liga backed the decision to abandon the game due to the “serious insults and threats during the first half against Roman Zozulya.”

“We continue working to eradicate violence, racism and xenophobia in the stages of Spanish professional football,” the organisation added.

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