Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ASTON VILLA have reacted with outrage, with the club saying they are ‘‘disgusted and appalled’’ by footage showing some of their fans racially abusing Marvelous Nakamba on Saturday.
The ugly chants, by a small section of the Villa fans, have once again thrown racism in football under the spotlight just a few weeks after FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, vowed to eliminate the cancer from the game.
It also marred Villa’s five-star show in which Nakamba was outstanding at Carrow Road where they crushed injury-hit Norwich City 5-1, under the gaze of royalty with their number one fan, Prince William, and his family.
Six-year-old Prince George, third in line as heir to the throne in British monarchy, even wore a Villa T-shirt.
This was the first time the Birmingham side had scored five goals in an English Premiership match away from home since a 6-0 win at Derby County in April 2008.
Villa also became the first promoted side to score five goals, away from home, in the Premiership since Bolton Wanderers at Leicester in August 2001 while Norwich suffered their biggest home defeat in the top-flight since April 2012 when they slumped to a 1-6 loss against Manchester City.
It was also Villa’s first away win in the Premiership in 1 519 days.
The racist Villa fans chanted Nakamba’s father was a ‘‘rasta,’’ and the player’s Scottish midfield teammate John McGinn was his ‘‘master,’’ while also mocking the Zimbabwean’s manhood.
The footage was widely shown on social media and led to Villa reacting strongly yesterday.
‘‘Aston Villa is disgusted and appalled by footage circulating on social media of supporters chanting a racist song which makes reference to two of our first team players (Nakamba and McGinn),’’ the club said in a statement.
‘‘The club wholly condemns the chant and urges other supporters to help us identify those responsible.
‘‘Chants of this nature besmirch the good name of Aston Villa Football Club and our fans. If the perpetrators are identified, they will be dealt with in the strongest manner by the club and be reported to the police immediately.
‘‘Our security staff will be vigilant at forthcoming games to ensure that anybody attempting repetition of this chant will be dealt with severely.
‘‘We know we can rely on the assistance of the majority of our fans to eradicate this toxic behaviour immediately. If anyone has any information please contact the club on 0121 327 2299.’’
The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust on Sunday also released a statement in which they condemned the fans for their chants.
“AVST is disappointed to hear about the chanting directed towards Marvelous Nakamba. It’s a cheap and insulting stereotype that has no place in this day and age,’’ the statement read.
“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable. Hiding so-called support behind such words are reprehensible and condemned by all decent Villa supporters.
“We will be contacting the club regarding the issue and we will be working closely with them to ensure that it is addressed swiftly.”
Former Villa star, Stan Collymore, said a similar incident had also happened towards the end of last season when Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham was featuring for the Birmingham club on loan.
Abraham, the son of a Nigerian father and a British mother, was a huge success at Villa, scoring 26 goals in 40 appearances, and helping Villa gain promotion into the English Premiership.
“There was a warning after Tammy about doing this, and it’s not one or two,’’ Collymore tweeted. “Time for @AVFCOfficial to say something. We’re a multicultural club, full stop.”
Nakamba and McGinn both produced powerful performances on Saturday with the Birmingham Post giving them both a score of nine out of 10.
The newspaper said Nakamba ‘‘marshalled the midfield brilliantly, was there when Villa needed him. The Zimbabwean’s got a trick in his locker, too, which was proved when he spun and Cruyff turned to stifle a Norwich attack.’’
Journalist Richard Cusack, writing in the same newspaper, noted that Norwich had finished 18 points above Villa last season but, without the financial muscle which has transformed their Birmingham counterparts, and a host of injuries, they were simply blown away on Saturday.
‘‘It was one man, who wasn’t among the goals, that impressed the claret and blue faithful – Marvelous Nakamba, noted Cusack.
‘‘The summer signing from Club Brugge was everywhere in midfield and is starting to show his true value to Villa fans.’’
And, a number of fans agreed that the Zimbabwean had produced another masterclass on Saturday and this is what some of them said:
Chris Marsh: “Been missing this type of player for ages.”
Adam Stone: “I like this guy the more and more he plays . . . Talk about a work horse. He’s not fantastic, he’s Marvelous!”
Stuart Connolly: “This lad is pure class. Starting to look like an absolute bargain.”
Jayne Fradley: “Really, really enjoying watching this guy. He does the basics and he does them well. Very good prospect, keep your feet on the ground. Will definitely be a fans’ favourite.”
Clayton Warwick: “Marvelous performance from Marvelous Nakamba.”
Shaun Stait: “He was excellent. Nipping at players to pressure them into misplaced passes, and shot out from the defensive line 3 times to intercept the ball, and start an attack. He has really established himself as our defensive midfielder, and Dean (Smith, Villa manager) obviously thinks so. As soon as he was match fit, he was in the team and hasn’t looked back.”
Robin James Sherlock: “Had my doubts when they bought him, but he is going to be a superstar.”
Thanh Nguyen: “Absolute beast. Won everything and bossed the midfield. Well done Marvelous.”