Northern Ireland

Man racially abused by NI football fans

Ali Askir
Image caption Mr Askir was driving near Windsor Park when people shouted abuse at him and attacked his car

A Belfast businessman has said he was racially abused by Northern Ireland fans on Saturday.

Ali Askir was driving near Windsor Park when a number of people shouted verbal abuse at him and attacked his car.

The Irish Football Association have condemned the actions of those involved and invited Mr Askir to attend an international at Windsor Park.

Police said they were investigating the incident and treating it as a racially motivated hate crime.

Mr Askir was on his way to the Boucher Road at about 16:00 BST when he had to take a detour through the Village area of south Belfast.

At the same time thousands of fans were leaving Windsor Park following Northern Ireland's game with Bosnia-Herzogovina.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Northern Ireland lost to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday

Mr Askir told BBC News NI that there was a lot of traffic and his car was travelling slowly.

"All of a sudden I get a rap and a shout and I thought nothing of it," he said.

"I thought somebody would know me and I turned around and it wasn't the people I know and then someone shouted the words and other people were kicking my tyres and thumping my Jeep and they were quite aggressive.

"At that stage, I knew they weren't that friendly so I rolled on and there was another group of people doing the same thing and saying whatever they wanted to say, then I thought, 'I've got myself into a mess here, I need to get out'."

The IFA responded to Mr Askir on Twitter and said that nobody should have to endure racial abuse.

"What happened to you sounds dreadful and we condemn such behaviour," the tweet continued.

"We will be in touch directly to invite you to be our VIP guest at our game against Austria. Every one of our real fans will give you a warm welcome."

Image caption Mr Askir said people were kicking the tyres of his car

The businessman said he was happy to accept the invitation.

"It's not representing the true football fans and we shouldn't brand Northern Ireland fans for this," he said.

"I believe those gentlemen involved would have been involved in bad behaviour no matter what shirt they are wearing."

Gary McAllister, from the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs, said everyone should be treated with respect.

"Northern Ireland fans, that's not what we're about," he told BBC News NI.

"Anybody, whether going to a match or otherwise, wearing a Northern Ireland shirt shouldn't behave like this towards other people. They should be respectful.

"It gives everyone a bad name and it doesn't reflect who we are and what we're about."