Manchester United have posted an anti-racism message seemingly in solidarity with Anthony Elanga, who says he was racially abused while on international duty.
The 19-year-old was playing for Sweden’s Under-21 side against Italy when the alleged abuse happened.
A statement on the Swedish FA’s official website said: “In connection with the U21 national team’s European Championship Qualifier against Italy in Monza on Tuesday, Anthony Elanga has stated after the match that he has been subjected to a racist comment from an opponent in the Italian U21 national team.”
Sweden U21s boss Claes Eriksson added: “We have told our version of what happened and have submitted an oral report to both the referees and the match delegates.
“We are now waiting for feedback through the match report and the referee report. Once they have arrived, we decide how to proceed. Safety manager Martin Fredman is also informed of what has happened.
“No one should have to be exposed to racism, it is completely unacceptable. We all stand behind and support Anthony in this.”
The Red Devils, without outright naming Elanga’s case, appear to have come out in support of their player.
Man United posted an image on Twitter encouraging fans to report any racism with the caption: “There is no place for any form of racial abuse or discrimination in society.”
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has dismissed the claim.
A statement read: “The FIGC denies in the most absolute way that a footballer of the Under-21 national team, during the Italy-Sweden match played in Monza, expressed racist slurs against an opponent, an incident which, as far as we know, was not noticed by the match officials or the UEFA delegate.
“We hope the governing bodies will promptly clarify the case. From television images broadcast yesterday and still available, after the equaliser, in the 92nd minute, two Swedish players celebrate the goal for a long time and are called by Italian footballers to resume the game quickly.
“We reiterate that no racist offence occurred before, at that time or subsequently, and the FIGC will protect its image and that of its players.
“At the same time, the FIGC reaffirms the constant commitment made by all Italian football, and in particular by the national teams, through numerous initiatives, to combat racism and once again condemns any discriminatory insult or episode of violence.”
Elanga, who plays as a winger, has three senior appearances for Man United under his belt. He has one goal to his name, netted in a 2-1 win over Wolves on the final day of last season.
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