West Ham United are investigating reports that the families of Victor Obinna and Frederic Piquionne were racially abused during the club's 4-2 loss against Manchester United at Upton Park last weekend, but there's been an interesting twist in what originally sounded like yet another depressing case of bigotry at a football match - Obinna himself is denying that his family were in England at all, making those claims seem a little bit odd. According to the original BBC report, an unnamed relative of Obinna's confronted fans from the executive box over the abuse, which now seems rather unlikely after the player said that nothing happened, nor could it have:
Nothing happened - I do not have any of my family members in England. There is no point asking me to confirm or verify an incident that never happened - I was in total shock when I heard and read about it in the papers.
I didn't have any of my relatives at the game and I do not know anyone who complained of any racial incident at the game.
Despite the denial from Obinna (there's been no word from Piquionne), it appears that West Ham themselves are taking the possibility of racism at Upton Park extremely seriously. The club has launched an investigation to ascertain the nature of the reported abuse, and if they can catch any of the supposed perpetrators, they're going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
One has to wonder if the incident did occur but the victim was simply misidentified as being part of Obinna's family. Not that it matters whether or not is was a relative of a player being abused - whoever it happened to, if it happened at all, racism should never be a part of football.