'He's been hurt by this' - Exclusive: Kevin Phillips calls on PFA to learn from mistakes
We’re delighted to welcome former West Brom striker Kevin Phillips as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at The Hawthorns…
Kevin Phillips has called on the PFA, Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card to learn from their mistakes after Jonathan Leko felt let down by them when he was racially abused by Kiko Casilla in September.
Casilla, 33, is currently serving an eight-match ban after the FA found that the Leeds United goalkeeper aimed racist abuse at Leko, 20, while he was on loan at Charlton earlier this season.
After the FA made their findings in the investigation public, Leko released a damning statement on West Brom’s official website which hit out at the lack of support he received from anti-racism charities and the PFA.
Leko is currently recovering from a season-ending knee injury he suffered in December, meaning that it has been a really difficult campaign for such a young player, who now admits that he might not come forward to report racist abuse after the awful mishandling of the incident with Casilla.
Ex-West Brom striker Phillips is adamant that the Baggies will be doing everything they can to look after the player’s welfare, as well as calling on those who disappointed Leko to use this as a learning opportunity.
“From West Brom’s point of view, they will fully 100 per cent support the player. One, in his recovery and two, in any help he needs off the pitch,” Phillips told West Brom News.
“As you would expect any club to do they’ll supply him with any resources he needs because he’s been hurt by this.
“He’s a good player. I’ve come up against him a few times as a coach, notably two seasons ago when he was at Bristol City when he did exceptionally well.
“You want those sorts of players in the right frame of mind. When he gets back fit you don’t want this hanging over him.
“He’s spoken out, it’s been dealt with. I’m sure there will be repercussions from the PFA, Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card because Troy Townsend was on there last week taking full responsibility so hopefully they can learn from this.
“We don’t want it to sway players from coming forward in the future.”
Leko’s had a tough season.
No person deserves to be racially abused and in this incidence, we’re talking about a young 20-year-old who is doing his job and playing football.
Leko’s statement showed that he is mature beyond his years and you would expect the anti-racism charities and the PFA to buck up their ideas after what happened with the Albion youngster.
Let’s hope Leko makes a full recovery from his knee injury in time to feature next season when West Brom might be in the Premier League.