Rayo-Albacete clash abandoned after 'Nazi' chants against Zozulya

Chants targeting the former Ukraine international, who had a brief spell at Rayo, saw the match in Spain abandoned and the player left in tears

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Rayo Vallecano president Raul Martin Presa condemned chanting against Albacete player Roman Zozulya that led to a Segunda Division game between the sides to be abandoned, and said his club was also a “victim”.

Sunday’s match at Vallecas was brought to an end at half-time by referee Jose Antonio Lopez Toca after Zozulya was targeted by home fans throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Zozulya, a former Ukraine international, joined Rayo on loan from Real Betis in 2017 but the move was cut short when supporters protested against the transfer due to reported far-right links, which the player has strenuously denied.

Presa said in quotes posted on Rayo’s official Twitter account that the club offered to have Sunday’s second half played in front of empty stands with fans sent home, but this was rejected.

“It is a very sad night for Rayo and sport,” he said. “We want to condemn sharply the insults that a part of the fans, located in the background, has uttered to a rival player.

“Football is to unite, it is not for disunity. You cannot afford what we experienced today. We have asked that this attitude stops. We agree the two teams must play in better conditions. We will not tolerate any type of violence.

“Sanction for Rayo? Rayo is a victim. We have put all the means within our reach. The coach called for respect. We have been a victim.

“For us, this was a vital match. Most of the fans have been respectful. We feel sorry and shame that this happens. Here players are trained in respect.

“I have spoken with Zozulya and I have given him a hug, because he is a human being and deserves respect. At Rayo Vallecano you have the right to play around the world regardless of race or ideology. Rayo wanted Zozulya to play.

“We can’t blame everyone for some. It would be unfair. Today a lot of damage has been done to Rayo and football.”

Presa added there will be talks over when the fixture can be replayed, while the league released a statement that backed the referee’s decision to stop the match, a warning to the fans having already been given via the public address system.

Zozulya was emotional in the dressing room following the incident according to Albacete vice-president Victor Varela, who said the player was “crying for everything that was happening and has arrived in the locker room completely shattered”.

Varela added: “So I think we have all made the right decision to defend our football and our competition.

“He is having a bad time and, frankly, he is very affected. Obviously it has been a pretty tough situation for him.

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

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