A RACISM inquiry has been launched after a Sunderland supporter appeared to make a monkey gesture at a black player at the Stadium of Light.
A photograph captures the alleged chant at Saturday’s televised match with West Bromwich Albion.
A supporter in the North Stand apparently imitated the actions of a monkey, after Belgium international Romelu Lukaku scored his side’s third goal in the 4-2 win.
Police today confirmed they are looking into the alleged abuse, after a complaint.
It comes less than a month after Chelsea fan Gavin Kirkham was banned from Stamford Bridge after appearing to target Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, a former Sunderland loan player, with monkey gestures in a Capital One Cup tie, which police are investigating.
Ged Grebby, of charity Show Racism the Red Card, which uses professional footballers to educate society about racism, hit out at the what the fan appears to be doing in the photograph.
“It’s very similar to the picture taken at the Chelsea game,” said Mr Grebby, who also founded the organisation which former SAFC captain Gary Bennett works with.
“This kind of gesture at football matches is a thing we never thought we’d see again.
“If anyone is guilty of this they could be looking at a three-year ban. When people do these kind of things we have to have action taken against them, and if they are found guilty then we will be asking the club to ban them.”
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Police are carrying out inquiries after a report of racist abuse at the Sunderland v West Brom match on Saturday.
“The report was received at 10.10pm on Saturday, November 24.”
A spokesman for Sunderland AFC said: “SAFC operates a policy of zero tolerance towards racism and anti-social behaviour of any kind and naturally we will co-operate with the police in fully investigating any such incidents.”
Sunderland had a number black players in their team on Saturday, with Danny Rose and Stephane Sessegnon in Martin O’Neill’s starting line-up and striker Louis Saha coming off the substitutes’ bench in the second-half.
Sunderland face Queens Park Rangers tonight at the Stadium of Light in a 7.45pm kick-off.