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26 Mar, 2022 16:20

Koscielny retires and refutes racism claims

The 36-year-old was accused of 'scandalous, sometimes racist' by the French club's ultras
Koscielny retires and refutes racism claims

Ex-Arsenal and France star Laurent Koscielny has announced his retirement and issued a statement denying allegations of racist behavior lodged against him and a former teammate by Bordeaux's ultras.

Koscielny – who made 353 appearances for the Gunners and once captained them – spent the final two months of his career frozen out at Bordeaux. 

Alarmingly, their ultras group UB87 accused him and teammate Benoit Costil of "scandalous, sometimes racist behavior", and a lack of leadership as the club plummeted to the bottom of the Ligue 1 table with just four victories from 29 games.

Koscielny said in a statement through his lawyer sent to the Sud Ouest newspaper that he was "surprised, shocked but also saddened by the remarks made by one of the representatives of the Ultramarines 87 Group against him, which the press is now echoing". 

The 36-year-old's correspondence mentioned another Sud Ouest article dated March 22 which was named: "Girondins de Bordeaux. Costil and Koscielny, accusations of racism that shake", and said that, "without there being any ambiguity", he "strongly disputes these accusations which have seriously [damaged] him and which have repercussions on his family and those around him".

Koscielny underlined "the investigative work of the Sud Ouest newspaper which solicited more than thirty people (according to the journalist's statements) who formally denied the alleged racist behavior" UB87 has accused him of.

"As a reminder, if Laurent Koscielny has not been part of the professional staff of the club since the end of January 2022, he recalls that he is still an employee of the Girondins de Bordeaux," the statement went on. 

"On this point, Laurent Koscielny intends to specify that he has decided to hang up his [boots] when he would have preferred to help the club on the [pitch]. Aware that the club was in difficulty, he accepted the proposal made to occupy a new [role] and to release [his] salary [as] proof of the concern he has for the best interests of the club."

"As such, he would like to thank the club for the mark of confidence shown in him by entrusting him with this position. This mission is the extension of a career that has commanded the respect of all of his partners, coaches and staff that he has worked with both in the club and in the France team.

"Laurent Koscielny also shares the club's position, which recalled in its press release that "no document aimed at supporting these allegations has been brought to the attention of the Club, which in principle intends to exercise the greatest caution," the statement finished.

Tensions between the ultras and Koscielny and Costil reached boiling point following a 2-0 defeat to Montpellier last Sunday.

Costil was booed throughout the match by the group, whose leader Florian Brunet was stopped by stewards from getting to the goalkeeper at half time. During the second half, cheers of "Costil, racist" were heard and UB87 then released a statement where it accused Costil and Koscielny of "scandalous, sometimes racist" behavior.

The accusations of racism are said to come from two members of the club, one of whom has been fired and another who is still on its books, and Costil reportedly intends to press charges against the ultras.

In an internal announcement, Bordeaux said that the "insults" and "accusations" aimed at Costil are "without proof", and Koscielny's retirement now appears to have been speeded up by them. Koscielny joined Bordeaux in 2019 when he left Arsenal and made 65 appearances for Les Girondins.