For the last one month, Nairobi City Stars head coach Sanjin Alagic has been a man under scrutiny, from his employers, the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) as well as objective and opinionated fans following claims he made a racial slur against a Vihiga United player or players.
After weeks of silence on the matter, the coach opened up on the club’s official portal, pointing out that they were baseless allegations with malicious intent.
It all started after the team’s game against Vihiga United at Kasarani on Wednesday 23 December when one media outlet carried the story, which trended across social platforms. It was then reported that as his team trailed the coach aimed words at the said players that would qualify as racist.
Riled at officiating
However, the coach admits that he was rightly riled at the levels of officiating in the game, and shared the same with the match officials, none of which was racist nor directed at the opposing team.
According to the Serbian tactician, his disappointment with the referees’ performance was very clear, it took his club chairman’s intervention to calm him down, which he did.
“With our team 1-0 down at half time, I was angry with the referee for several decisions that I felt, and I maintain, went against my team.
“At half time, I went up towards the referee and made my feelings known.
“Football is an emotional sport as we all know, and the referee as well as everyone else in the ground will have known that I was not happy. Our owner and chairperson, Jonathan Jackson, came up to me and asked me to calm down, which he was correct to do. I consequently did,” he says.
However, he insists in his statement that even in his moment of anger, he was in control of what he said and none of it was racist. The match report from the federation, as well as the club’s internal probe absolve him, while no one from the public came forth with proof, the club says.
“When I heard about the allegations, my initial reaction was absolute shock. I did not have communication with the opposition, and I certainly didn’t say what I am alleged to have said. The fact that anyone has even suggested that these words could come from my mouth is hurtful, disrespectful, and a complete lie.
“I cannot shake how disgusted I am that someone would come up with sickening lies and attach it to my name,” he continues.
Further to the positive reports from the federation and club, the coach has appreciated the bold step made by a section of the media that carried the allegation to apologize, even as he notes his legal team is still working on clearing the issue and his image from the damage caused.
As the issue takes this turn, the coach has noted that this will be the only time he speaks about it. His focus now shifts to the BetKing Premier League activity ahead, with the immediate attention trained at Sofapaka, his side’s next opponent on Match Day 9 at Wundanyi Stadium in Taita.