West Ham striker Demba Ba claimed on Tuesday he had been racially abused by a fan after police were called to the club’s end of season dinner at a luxury London hotel.
Ba said the trouble at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Monday started when he was subjected to racist comments from an unhappy fan the day after the London club’s relegation from the English Premier League was confirmed.
There had been reports tempers frayed when Senegal striker Ba, on loan from German club Hoffenheim, refused to sign an autograph.
However, Ba insisted he did sign and that both he and West Ham teammate Danny Gabbidon had been subjected to racist abuse.
“It was a crazy situation,” Ba told Talk Sport Radio on Tuesday. “This guy came to me when we were sitting at the table. There were two players per table and Manuel da Costa was with me.
“This guy came and asked for an autograph so I gave him his autograph. Then he asked me nicely how I was feeling so I just said I was tired from the game yesterday and that it was a tough game. And then he just replied ‘Oh, we’re tired watching you play every weekend’.
“I was surprised and told da Costa what the guy had said. Then the guy all of a sudden started screaming at me like crazy. I tried to calm him down but he didn’t want to.
“He kept on screaming, then some players came and pushed me out of there. They just told me to walk away and tried to calm this guy but he didn’t want to calm down and started smashing some tables and glasses.
‘No offences alleged and no arrests’
“When he [the supporter] talked to me I didn’t understand everything that he said but the people next to me said he was saying racist things and stuff.
“When Gabbidon heard these words he came and tried to talk to him but this guy didn’t want to listen and started insulting Gabbidon as well.”
Earlier, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan said the events at the £275 per head event had been “blown out of all proportion”.
Sullivan, speaking to Sky Sports, added: “It was one individual who had too much to drink, sadly a problem in British society.
“A player was racially abused by the same drunken supporter, which is not acceptable. Sadly one drunken supporter let the club down.”
Police confirmed they were called to “reports of a disturbance” at the hotel.
“Officers attended. There were no offences alleged and no arrests,” a spokesman said.
According to a report in the Sun, West Ham’s players had been ordered to turn up at the event, attended by about 200 people, including corporate sponsors, in a bid to help raise money for the club’s youth academy.
West Ham are looking for a new manager after sacking Avram Grant on Sunday following the 3-2 defeat at Wigan which sealed their relegation.
Former England head coach Steve McClaren has ruled himself out of the running to fill the managerial vacancy. — AFP