Eritrean-Swedish professional footballer Alexander Isak Subjected to Racist Abuse

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Sweden vs Romania halted as Alexander Isak suffers racist abuse by fans in European Qualifier

“Racist words, things that shouldn’t happen. It’s incredibly sad,” said Isak

Sweden striker Alexander Isak was subjected to racist abuse by Romania fans during a European Qualifier on Friday night.

Isak came off the bench for Sweden in the 77th minute of his side’s 2-0 win, and the game was halted about two minutes later after the 20-year-old complained to Italian referee Daniele Orsato about the abuse.

Play was allowed to continue after around 90 seconds after those in the stadium were warned of their conduct.

Isak, whose parents are from Eritrea, told Swedish media: “I just asked the referee if he heard anything. A couple of minutes later he paused the match and said he had heard something.

“He asked me ‘shall I stop the game?’. I said no, you don’t need to do that. Racist words, things that shouldn’t happen. It’s incredibly sad.

“Obviously it hurts, it’s a shame but we were prepared for it. I don’t let things like that affect me in that way. It’s better to ignore it.

“There will always be idiots around, it’s better not to give them the attention they are looking for.”

“Of course its sad in the moment, but we knew it could happen. I think I handled it well and the support from the team is great. I asked the ref if he heard it and he stopped the game.”

The Real Sociedad forward finished the game and led the celebrations in front of the Romanian supporters.

The incident means Romania face a third UEFA charge for racism in this qualifying campaign.

Their previous home game against Norway was ordered to be played behind closed doors. They could now face a points deduction or expulsion from the tournament.

The victory secured Sweden’s progression to Euro 2020 with a match to spare, ending Romania’s chances of qualifying from the group.

Asked about the game being stopped, Sweden coach Janne Anderson said: “For me, I’m a football coach. We have a referee, we have some rules that we have to follow and the referee followed it, so he stopped the game once.

“I don’t know why because I didn’t hear anything. Probably had he heard something, he would have talked about it.

“So for me of course if there’s any racism at all, stop the game. That’s the rules and that’s what we prepare the players for. It’s what happened once and I think it’s sad that it happens.”