Malaysian FA apologises to Benayoun over racist abuse

Yossi Benayoun
Benayoun joined Chelsea from Liverpool in July 2010

Malaysia's football federation has apologised after Chelsea complained that Yossi Benayoun had suffered racist abuse during last week's friendly.

The Football Association of Malaysiaexternal-link said "if such an incident did happen, we would like to apologise to the player... and also to Chelsea FC."

Chelsea responded on Friday, saying "the matter is now closed".

Benayoun is one of the few Israelis to have played in Malaysia, a country which does not recognise Israel.

The 31-year-old Benayoun was jeered each time he touched the ball in a match against a Malaysian XI on 21 July. Agency reports from the match in Kuala Lumpur said the abuse was directed at Benayoun.

The Malaysian FA, however, said the abuse would have "involved a small section of spectators".

In reply to the MFA's statment, Chelsea said: "We appreciate the prompt ttention the Malaysian FA has given our complaint.

"Chelsea Football Club is committed to eradicating all discriminatory behaviour from the game and urges the MFA to take appropriate steps to stamp out this type of behaviour in future.

"The club and Yossi accept the apology."

Chelsea have one more match left on their Asian tour - against Aston Villa in Hong Kong on 30 July - before they return to England.

Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out have called for Malaysia's football authorities to look at the issue of anti-semitic prejudice.

A spokesman for the group said: "Kick It Out supports the action taken by Chelsea on this matter.

"After working with the club on the recent 'Y-Word' film, aimed squarely at challenging anti-semitism and anti-Jewish abuse and featuring Frank Lampard, it's a strand of discrimination which is front of mind for both organisations.

"In addition, the campaign is keen to engage with Malaysian authorities around the issue and how football can play its part in educating mass audiences to become better versed on issues around faith and religion."