Charlton chairman Matt Southall says he wonders if football is “paying lip service” to racism after Jonathan Leko questioned the time taken to ban Leeds’ Kiko Casilla for racially abusing him.
An independent regulatory commission took 22 weeks to find Casilla guilty, with the goalkeeper consequently banned for eight matches and fined £60,000.
West Bromwich Albion’s Leko was on loan at Charlton when the incident occurred.
“Reading his statement has left me deeply saddened,” Southall said.
He wrote on Twitter: “Football has a duty of care to protect players who have been abused in this way. But if the process is too demeaning, lengthy or damaging, what does that say about how far we’ve truly come?”
In a statement on Wednesday, Leko, 20, said he found the hearing “extremely stressful”, making him doubt whether he would report similar abuse in future.
Leko also said he received “minimal contact” from the Professional Footballers’ Association – of which he is a member – and had no support at all from anti-racism bodies in football, including Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card.
In response, the PFA apologised to the player, saying they will “review their procedures”.
“To think a black player would consider not reporting racist abuse aimed at them is shocking,” added Southall.
“To hear Jonathan so angry and distraught in his statement makes me wonder whether football as a sport is merely paying lip service to the fight against racism.”
‘You could see he wasn’t himself’
Speaking at his regular Thursday press conference, Charlton manager Lee Bowyer agreed the case “should have been dealt with quicker” but said the club “supported him [Leko] since day one”.
“To have something like that hanging over you, especially as such a young player, has to be difficult to carry,” Bowyer said.
“You could see he wasn’t himself. He’s a bubbly and confident lad and he was a bit quiet for a while after.
“But the group got him through that and he was himself again. While he was here, everyone was around to support him.”
Leko’s spell at Charlton ended prematurely in December, as a knee ligament injury ruled him out for the rest of the season and he returned to parent club West Brom for treatment.