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Watford legend Luther Blissett praises decision to abandon game due to alleged racist incident
Hornets legend Luther Blissett has praised Watford’s youth team coach David Hughes after he pulled his players off the pitch during a game in Italy following an alleged racist comment.
On Wednesday Hughes told his under-19 players to leave the field 15 minutes into the second half against Serie B club Latina.
Hughes refused to comment on the matter when he was asked yesterday but head coach Gianfranco Zola says it appears the alleged remark was made by an .opposition player.
The FA and racism charity Kick It Out have confirmed they are looking into the incident.
Blissett, who is Watford’s record goalscorer, spent time in Italy playing for AC Milan during the 1980s.
He said: “It’s sad these things are still going on but it was absolutely right to take the team off.
"It’s good to know that somebody has done something about it rather than just accept it.
“The FA should investigate and if it’s been established that there was abuse, they should hand over to UEFA to dish out punishments.
“Don’t leave it to match officials to handle these things – once clubs know that they’re being watched from much higher up, people will start behaving.
“I think the Italians have cleaned up their act to an extent, but they’re still a long way behind this country.
"In terms of how they've treated black players, when I went to Italy in 1983, they were back where this country was when I started playing in 1975.
"But I've had some horrendous times in England.
"I was playing alongside John Barnes in a League Cup match at Leeds in the eighties when the crowd gave us a really bad time.
"At one point, the ball had gone behind and when I went to pick it up the crowd behind the goal, they started the Sieg Heil salute. They did it to a man.
"We answered it in the best possible way by winning 4-0.
"You couldn't have taken a team off the field in those days - there would have been uproar but it's the right thing to do now and I'm glad to see it's happening."
Speaking to the Watford Observer yesterday, Zola said: "I have had a chat with Dave Hughes and he reported some things to me. We are looking into it to see what happened exactly.
"I am certainly not pleased about it and I do not like it but before I say any more I want to find out more about what happened from the organisers. I need to have the bigger picture before commenting any more."
He did clarify: "It looks like it was something between players but I am trying to find out more because I only spoke to Dave Hughes quickly last night."
The Hornets were 1-0 down to Latina at the time the game was called off. The match was part of the Wojtyla Cup.
Hughes can be seen calling his players off the field five minutes and 29 seconds into the video below.
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