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Altidore prays for racist fans

FORGIVING: Altidore would pray for those who abused him

DESPITE SUFFERING racist abuse from the stands, AZ Alkmaar forward Jozy Altidore personally told the match official to continue play, and after his side had won 5-0 he said he would pray for those targeting him.

The 23-year-old American, who once was on loan at Hull City, got on the score sheet by converting a penalty away at Den Bosch in the Dutch KNVB Cup. Ref Reinold Wiedemeijer stopped play twice in last night’s (January 29) fixture – once for the racist chants, the second due to fans hurling snowballs at the assistant referee.

The home side’s director, Peter Bijvelds, addressed the crowd at half-time, pleading for them to desist in abusing non-white players, however, the behaviour of Den Bosch fans did not improve during the second 45, with snowballs pelting the match official.

After the match had ended, Altidore bore a somewhat resilient and forgiving attitude when speaking to

“It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen in this time we're in but what are you going to do?

“You just hope that these people can improve themselves. You pray for them”, Altidore said of the fans that had racially abused him.

“I feel like I have an obligation as a football player, to my club, to my family, to not react to things like this and to show that the club stands better than that, that I was raised better than to respond to such ridiculous behaviour.

“You would hope that we as humanity we can grow from these kind of times but at the end of the day, it's still alive, racism. All we can do is try to educate ourselves, and try to raise young kids to be better than that”, the striker added.

Nonetheless, Altidore, a much travelled player having already played in Spain, Turkey and England, said he could not recall of ever being on the receiving end of such abuse. Yet he maintained his religious outlook of prayer and pity for those abusive spectators.

“All I can do is pray for them and hope they become better people. I'm not going to fight them. They just have some issues and they need some help,” he said, before explaining why he did not want the match called off.

“All I can do is pray for them and hope they become better people. I'm not going to fight them. They just have some issues and they need some help.”

Altidore’s team-mate, Viktor Elm, told AZ’s official website: “The fans that misbehaved towards Altidore should be ashamed.

“I, like everybody else, am really disappointed in these supporters. It is a bad time for professional football. It is not something I have experienced in my career before.

“Jozy handled it really well. He has not been tempted to respond. He was emotional after his penalty”, added the player who scored the night’s opening goal.

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