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Wolves' Carl Ikeme issues response to Walsall racism complaint

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Carl Ikeme tonight gave his response to the FA's decision to clear Walsall of any wrongdoing following a racist complaint.

Wolves had lodged official complaints with the Saddlers and the FA after claiming offensive comments were made to goalkeeper Ikeme and substitute George Elokobi during the match at the Banks's on March 8, which the visitors won 3-0.

Following the complaints, Walsall carried out a full investigation and subsequently the Saddlers were cleared by the game's ruling body with no further action being taken.

Ikeme said: "I didn't report the incident because I have got a problem with Walsall Football Club or anyone at Walsall.

"I got called a c**n twice, that is a fact, and George got called a black ****, and that is a fact as well.

"It also happened to me two years ago in a pre-season game as well, which I also reported.

"Obviously I'm not saying that Walsall is a racist club, of course not. I have got friends in Walsall and friends who play for Walsall.

"I've no problem with the club, I know it was a few individuals and doesn't reflect the Walsall crowd as a whole.

"But when you hear those things like I did then I feel I need to report it."

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The Wolves star believes football - and society - still has a battle to win over racist comments and behaviour.

"It could happen with fans at any club – it could be our club – but wherever it happens it is not right," he added.

"There was a lot of good banter going on as well which was funny and I got called 'Matt Murray on drugs' and all that is fine.

"But there is a line that can be crossed and to be called what I did was unacceptable.

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"I didn't need to make any claim to distract from anything else and to be honest, the easy thing would have been to walk away and not say anything.

"I have been told that I should have reported it as soon as it happened but I'm not sure how I am supposed to stop the match as soon as I hear something like that.

"I know it was always going to be difficult to find the culprits and during the match there was no way I would be able to engage with the crowd to try and see who it was when I was concentrating.

"I mentioned it to the backroom staff after the match and then it was a case of thinking over the next decision and when myself and George came in on Monday, we spoke to the gaffer (Kenny Jackett) who said he would back us all the way.

"It was a big decision for me to report it but, at the end of the day, there is a lot of work that goes into the Kick It Out campaign, and I know both Walsall and Wolves are strongly involved in that work to try and stamp out racism and discrimination.

"Racism was a lot worse in days gone by, and it has got a lot better, but if I had just walked away and not reported it I don't think it would have been the right thing to do.

"I'm a big boy and I can handle it even though it's not right, but the next person it happens to might not be the same.

"So while it's getting better and there is some great work taking place from so many clubs, when there are incidents then there is still more work to be done."

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