December 6, 2021

‘This is completely unacceptable’ – Arsenal and Leeds condemn social media abuse of Pepe and Alioski

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The Gunners have pledged to work with the authorities to identify those responsible for directing messages of hate towards the two players

Arsenal and Leeds United have condemned the social media abuse of Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski following their Premier League clash.

Leeds held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at Elland Road on Sunday, in a game which was overshadowed by an incident involving Pepe and Alioski early in the second half.

The Ivory Coast international was sent off for headbutting the 28-year-old left-back, whose over the top reaction prompted ex-Manchester United defender Patrice Evra to say he “deserves an Oscar” in the Sky Sports studio post-match.

Both players received abusive messages of a racist and threatening nature online in the wake of the incident, with the police now set to launch a formal investigation.

Arsenal have promised to do everything they can to aid the authorities in their pursuit of the guilty parties, releasing the following statement on their official website: “We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds United. 

“This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits.”

Leeds have issued a similar message to their supporters on Monday morning, which reads: “The vile abuse directed at Ezgjan Alioski and Nicolas Pepe on social media after yesterday’s Premier League game with Arsenal will not be tolerated by Leeds United.

“We will work closely with the police and the footballing authorities to ensure those responsible are identified and punished.”

Pepe will now face a three-match suspension for violent conduct, with the 25-year-old’s manager Mikel Arteta expressing his disappointment in the winger after the game.

“It is unacceptable,” Arteta said. “I’ve spoken to him; it is unacceptable. I really like the personality of the team. When Pepe let the team down, how we suffered together and stuck to what we had to do.”

Arteta suggested Pepe was naive in reacting to what had become a running battle with Alioski.

“We knew the level of intensity, aggression and how alive they are in every action and you have to be able to deal with that because it’s part of the plan against this team,” Arteta said. “You have to be able to handle this situation.”