Wycombe Wanderers striker Adebayo Akinfenwa has taken to social media to release a statement in which he explains the racist abuse which was targeted towards him by a Fleetwood Town official in Monday’s 6-3 aggregate win in the League One play-off semi-finals.
The Chairboys had taken a 4-1 lead from the first leg at Highbury Stadium before drawing 2-2 in the return fixture on their turf.
Akinfenwa started from the bench in both matches and came on for fellow Anglo-Nigerian Fred Onyedinma and Alex Samuel in their respective games.
The 38-year-old narrates that he was called a “Fat Water Buffalo” by a Fleetwood representative after the game was over on Monday.
It sets a bad precedent at a time when football in England is standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the quest to end racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The FA according to TalkSPORT, have said they are aware of the incident and will be launching an investigation.
“Monday night was one of the highlights of my career with Wycombe so far as we secured our place in the League One play-off final at Wembley. However, what should have been an evening of joy and excitement quickly turned into one of anger and frustration,” Akinfenwa said in a statement posted on Instagram.
“Historically, I have been subjected to and have experienced abuse across a number of areas tags about many things, including my size but also about the colour of my skin. Throughout my career, dating back to when I suffered severe and widespread racism playing in Lithuania, I have always vowed to stand up and have a voice when it comes to racism, believing that education is ultimately the key to a future without racial discrimination.
“Following the conclusion of the game, I learned that a representative of the opposition had repeatedly referred to me as a Fat 'Water Buffalo' in a derogatory tone. Regardless of whether or not there was deliberately racial intent by using that language and irrespective of the context in which it was used if we are to make real and long-standing change, then we must work together to ensure those who have not and do not face racial prejudice understand that what may appear to them to be a throwaway remark can have such a big and hurtful impact.
“I believe that it dehumanises me as a black man by associating me to a Water Buffalo, a dark animal, in a derogatory manner. I feel passionately around raising this because we as a sport and as a society must wake up. We must do more. We must educate ourselves and understand the potential repercussions of using such language and be aware of the hurt it can cause. The bigger issue to me would be the lack of understanding as to why calling me this term would not be hurtful to me as a black man, and this must change.
“Taking a knee, supporting social media campaigns and wearing a logo on our kits is a start, but it is not enough. It will not result in real and long-standing change.
“The real work must start now and the only way to move forward collectively is thorough education. We must all play our part. #BlackLivesMatter."
Akinfenwa has been on the books of Wycombe since 2016 when he joined from AFC Wimbledon and has scored more than 50 competitive goals which is his most productive tally in a career that has seen him play for 12 different English clubs including FK Atlantas in Lithuania where his senior career began in 2001.
Wycombe will come up against Oxford United, who saw off Portsmouth via penalties in the other semis, next Monday at Wembley, for a chance to reach the Championship for the first time in their history.