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Liverpool apologise to player in race row

Oldham Athletic's Tom Adeyemi is restrained after being abused by fans on the Kop during the FA Cup third round match against Liverpool at Anfield on Friday in Liverpool, England. (FILE)


Besieged English giants Liverpool apologised on Sunday to the black footballer who claimed he was racially abused by fans on the Anfield ground's legendary Kop.

Oldham's Tom Adeyemi said he was targetted during Friday's FA Cup third-round game, which Liverpool won 5-1.

It was an incident which saw a 20-year-old man from the Aintree area of Liverpool arrested and then bailed on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.

"Whatever the outcome of what is now a police investigation, all of us are deeply sorry for what happened and our players and our club pass on our sincere regrets to Tom Adeyemi for the upset and distress he suffered as a result of the matter at hand," said a Liverpool statement.

"Our supporters are renowned throughout the world for their outstanding commitment, passion and fairness. They are drawn from nationalities across the globe with widely diverse backgrounds and heritages.

"The actions of any one individual do not represent our fans. Their stance on these issues is just as resolute as the club's."

Friday's incident came with Liverpool already on the defensive over their handling of the Luis Suarez affair, with the club reacting furiously after the Uruguay striker was banned for eight games and fined £40,000 ($62,000) for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Ironically, Liverpool were on Sunday drawn to face United in the FA Cup fourth round, a tie which will be overshadowed by the bitter legacy of the Suarez-Evra affair even though the Uruguayan will still be serving his suspension.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's image problems suffered another setback when their England international midfielder Stewart Downing was questioned by police on suspicion of assault following a night out, local media reported.

The 27-year-old was alleged to have been involved in a row with an ex-girlfriend at a pub near his home town of Middlesbrough in the north-east of the country.

"Police were called to an incident at a pub on Yarm High Street shortly before 1am on Sunday, January 8," a police spokesman told the Liverpool Echo.

"A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault and a 32-year-old woman has also been arrested on suspicion of assault. Both are in custody and inquiries are ongoing."

Liverpool refused to comment on the reports.

Downing joined Liverpool last summer from Aston Villa but started his career at Middlesbrough Academy.

He made his first-team debut for his home town club in April, 2002, in a Premier League match at Ipswich Town.