‘You f*cking Nazi!’: Fan chants at Ukrainian footballer Zozulya cause match to be abandoned in Spain
The Spanish second-tier game between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete was abandoned at half time after chants of “you f*cking Nazi” were directed at Ukrainian player Roman Zozulya.
Albacete forward Zozulya, 30, was targeted by ultras among the home fans at Rayo, having previously seen a loan move to the club rejected over his alleged links to the far-right in his homeland.
On Sunday, he was met with chants which translate as “Roman Zozulya, you f*cking Nazi,” causing play to be delayed during the first half.
After the chants continued, players from both teams decided not to emerge for the second half of the game, which was level at 0-0 but during which Albacete had had a man sent off.
It is the first time a game in Spain has been suspended for hate crimes, racism or homophobia, according to local outlet AS.
In a statement, La Liga backed the decision of referee José Antonio López Toca to suspend the match at Vallecas stadium.
“From LaLiga we continue working to eradicate violence, racism and xenophobia in the stages of Spanish professional football,” it said.
Back in 2017 while at Real Betis, Ukrainian international Zozulya saw a loan move to Rayo Vallecano fall through due to fan protests over his alleged “neo-Nazi” links in his homeland.
Supporters pointed to a number of provocative posts on the player’s Twitter account, including photographs with images of Stepan Bandera, the leader of Ukrainian nationalist groups that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.Also on rt.com FIFA allows ‘neo-Nazi linked’ Zozulya to return to Ukrainian team
Zozulya later stressed that he is “not linked to or a supporter of any paramilitary or neo-Nazi groups,” but said that he supports the Ukrainian army, which “protects his country and his people."
Zozulya started his career in Ukraine at Dynamo Kiev and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, before leaving for left Betis in 2016. From there, he joined Albacete in 2017, scoring 23 times in 83 appearances so far.
He was also targeted by fans in a Spanish second-division match against Deportivo Lugo last season, AP reports.
Zozulya has played 33 times for his country, scoring four goals, although he has not featured for the national team since 2016.