UEFA is investigating what Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino called a “very disrespectful” and “unacceptable” anti-Semitic banner displayed by Partizan Belgrade fans during their Europa League opener.
A solid, if uninspiring, goalless draw got Spurs’ Group C campaign off to a decent start in Serbia, although an unsavoury sight in the home end overshadowed matters on the pitch. Partizan supporters displayed a banner inspired by the Only Fools and Horses logo, although the name was changed to ‘Only Jews and Pussies’.
UEFA is investigating the issue pointed out to them by Tottenham officials, with a delegate from the governing body taking photographic evidence after the match.
“I didn’t see it,” Spurs boss Pochettino said. “The club is aware but I did not see [it myself].
“But if this is true, then it is an unacceptable thing. It is very disrespectful.
“This is a shame, very disrespectful and unacceptable.”
The banner, displayed at Partizan Stadium throughout the match, is another unpalatable moment for Serbian football, just two years on from the racist abuse suffered by England Under-21s in a European Championship play-off.
Furthermore, this is not the first time Partizan have found themselves in hot water, having been thrown out of the UEFA Cup and fined in 2007 for rioting during a first qualifying round first-leg clash at Zrinjski Mostar.
This latest issue will no doubt disappoint Partizan head coach Marko Nikolic, who was clearly unaware of the issue when thanking supporters for their behaviour in the post-match press conference.
“I want to congratulate the crowd,” Nikolic said. “The support was great and not only great but everything went well.
“It was a wonderful, sporting environment without the slightest problem.”
The truth, though, is that the idiocy of some Partizan fans overshadowed a fine performance from their team.
Aside from Harry Kane’s early strike off the woodwork, Spurs created little and Pochettino could have no argument with the result.
“It was a tough game,” he said. “We talked yesterday about this game and that it would be difficult and in the end, a draw is a fair result.
“We competed, kept a clean sheet but we wanted the three points.
“It’s important not to lose these games, of course. It was difficult but we need to look forward and look at the positives, like Federico Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli making their first starts for us. They did very well.
“Now we need to look forward and prepare for West Brom on Sunday.”