An investigation has been launched after two Everton footballers were allegedly racially abused during an FA Cup match.
Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone and South African midfielder Steven Pienaar were “hurt” by comments from supporters as they celebrated a goal early in their fourth round game against Carlisle United, Toffees’ manager Roberto Martinez said.
A public address system message at Carlisle’s at Brunton Park ground soon after Kone’s second-minute strike announced any racist abuse would not be tolerated. Everton went on to win 3-0 to set up a fifth round tie away at Bournemouth.
The two side’s managers united after the game to condemn the abuse and the clubs pledged to work closely with police investigating the incident.
Martinez said that some “racial remarks” had come from the Warwick Road End stand as Kone and Pienaar celebrated the opening goal.
He said: “We will help the police, Carlisle and everyone to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Asked how Kone and Pienaar were feeling, he said: “They are okay. I think they were sensitive and hurt at that moment - probably they were fearful about the game developing into a difficult afternoon. But it was a one-off incident.
“As you know, there is no room for that sort of behaviour. But I must stress it was a very small minority and I want to believe that it was just an emotional reaction to the disappointment of conceding a goal.”
Martinez said the incident was well handled by referee Lee Mason, who had been approached by one of the players and then relayed that to the managers, leading to the announcement being made.
His opposite number at Carlisle, the former Manchester City defender Keith Curle, said: “It is not what we want inside Brunton Park, inside football, or inside society.
“The club will make all efforts. I know there was a steward in the terraces and CCTV as well. We will do everything we can to identify who it was and make sure the relevant penalties and punishments will be adhered to.
“I didn’t hear it myself, but what I would say to any supporters who were next to people and heard people - please step forward and identify them, because it is not accepted.”
Cumbria Police Superintendent Justin Bibby said: “We are investigating allegations of racist behaviour directed towards Everton players following the first goal.
“Hate crime will not be tolerated in this county and any allegation will be fully investigated.
“We ask that anyone with information makes contact with police.”