Football

Aleksandar Tonev loses racism appeal

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Celtic winger Aleksandar Tonev has lost his appeal against a seven-match suspension for racially abusing Aberdeen player Shay Logan. 

The 24-year-old, who is currently on loan from Premier League side Aston Villa, was originally found guilty in October but appealed to the Scottish Football Association in order to have the decision overturned.

However the appeal tribunal instead decided to uphold the suspension, with Celtic uttering a statement afterwards professing their disappointment and insistence that the winger is innocent. 

The incident

The incident happened when the two sides locked horns at the start of the season in October, a game where Celtic ran out narrow winners after previously embarking on a five-game winless run.  

Tonev and Logan clashed during the match, with the latter complaining to both referee Bobby Madden and Aberdeen captain Mark Reynolds during the match that the Bulgarian had used racist language towards him.

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The Celtic winger strenuously denies the charges, and submitted statements to the SFA contesting claims that he had used "offensive, insulting and abusive language of a racist nature."

Verdict reached

In making their decision public, the SFA had to consider whose account was more reliable on the basis of probabilities.

The original panel had believed Logan's version of events, having found him a "reliable witness with cogent reasons for doing so."

He had "impressed them by the careful and measured manner in which he gave evidence" and was a stark contrast to Tonev who refused the opportunity to use an interpreter and had come across as less convincing as a result. 

Player backing

Despite the verdict, Tonev has the backing of his club and country who are both united in the common cause of clearing his name. 

"We do not consider that any player should be found guilty of such a grave offence on the basis of the evidence presented in this case," said the Scottish champions who may now approach the SFA to take the issue further. 

The Bulgarian FA have also been vocal in their support, and expressed their disappointment that Tonev had been found guilty given his previous clean record.

"We still believe in his Tonev's evidence, bearing in mind the fact that the player has never showed before any racist behaviour on and off the pitch," they said in a short statement. 

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