The young attacker admits he was forced to feel as though he’d done something wrong by flagging the episode.
West Brom’s Jonathan Leko has conceded he may think twice about reporting racism in the long run following the lengthy procedure that has seen Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla banned for eight matches.
Casilla was found guilty of using racist language towards Leko in September 2019 during a Championship game and was handed his suspension on Friday.
For Leko, the drawn-out nature of the event along with the lack of support he received has left him uncertain over if he would report such incidents moving ahead.
“I’m naturally relieved that the procedure is now complete and the FA have upheld what I’ve always known to be true – which I had been racially abused by Kiko Casilla in a fashion which shocked me and angers and upsets me to this day,” Leko said in a statement.
“I’ve been frustrated with the amount of time it has taken to reach this stage. Knowing what happened in the game that day, it’s been hard to observe Kiko Casilla continue to play for such a protracted period as if nothing had occurred.
“I would recommend the game’s governing bodies to research their own procedures when such incidents are reported. It was 22 weeks between the incident and the hearing through which I had minimal contact in the PFA, where I am a member, and no touch at the means of support from top anti-racism bodies like’Kick It Out’ and’Show Racism The Red Card’. Some support or advice would have been quite welcome.
“By bringing the incident to the referee’s attention instantly, I was just doing what I’ve been educated to do during my career. But I discovered the hearing, where I was made to believe I had done something wrong, extremely stressful.
“It made me wonder whether I would be ready to go through it all again were I on the receiving end of similar abuse in the future. I would think twice about how to inform a different participant put in precisely the identical situation.
“From the beginning, all I’ve done is to report something that needed to be challenged and exposed for what it is – racial abuse. I now wish to put the episode behind me and focus on recovering from my injury to be prepared for next year.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have apologised for any lack of support provided to Leko and claim they did reach out to Leko’s club at the time of this incident but did not hear back from the participant.