Nigerian-born Wycombe Wanderers forward, Adebayo Akinfenwa says he was repeatedly called a ‘Fat Water Buffalo’ by a ‘representative of the opposition’ during Monday’s play-off win over Fleetwood.
The Football Association said it is now investigating the incident, after Akinfenwa released a statement on Wednesday outlining what had happened and said ‘we as a sport and as society must wake up’.
Wycombe are through to the League One play-off final against Oxford United after Monday’s 2-2 draw at home to Fleetwood secured a 6-3 aggregate win.
Akinfenwa came off the bench for the second half of the semi-final second-leg tie at Adams Park – only for the night to be marred for the 38-year-old fans’ favourite.
His statement read in part: “What should have been an evening of joy and excitement quickly turned into one of anger and frustration”. “Following the conclusion of the game, I learned that a representative of the opposition had repeatedly referred to me as a Fat ‘Water Buffalo’ in a derogatory tone.
“Regardless of whether or not there was deliberate racial intent by using that language and irrespective of the context in which it was used, if we are to make real and long standing change then we must strive to educate each other about these issues.
“We must work together to ensure those who have not and do not face racial prejudice understand that what may appear to them to be a throwaway remark can have such a big and hurtful impact”. “A Water Buffalo is a dark animal and as a black man I believe that you have dehumanised me, by associating me with a dark animal, as this was said in a derogatory manner.
“I feel passionately around raising this because we as a sport and as society must wake up. We must do more”. “We must educate ourselves and understand the potential repercussions of using such language and be aware of the hurt it can cause. “The bigger issue to me would be the lack of understanding as to why calling me this term would not be hurtful to me as a black man, and this must change.
“Taking a knee, supporting social media campaigns and wearing a logo on our kits is a start, but it is not enough. It will not result in real and long standing change. “The real work must start now and the only way to move forward collectively is through education. “We must all play our part. #BlackLivesMatter.”
An FA spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of the allegations and will be investigating the matter.”
The EFL has also been made aware of the incident and is liaising with the FA. Both Wycombe and Fleetwood declined to comment on the issue Wednesday.