West Ham's on-loan striker Demba Ba has backed up club co-owner David Sullivan's claim that he was racially abused by a supporter at the Hammers' end-of-season dinner on Monday night.
Sullivan said that trouble started at London's Grosvenor House Hotel after Ba had been subjected to racist comments by a disgruntled fan, a day after the club's relegation from the Barclays Premier League was confirmed. It was initially suggested the problems had started because Ba refused to sign an autograph, but he has told talkSPORT that he did and that he and team-mate Danny Gabbidon were the victims of racism.
The Senegal international said: "When he (the supporter) talked to me I didn't understand everything that he said but the people next to me said he was saying racist things and stuff. When Gabbidon heard these words he came and tried to talk to him but this guy didn't want to listen and started insulting Gabbidon as well."
He added: "It was a crazy situation. This guy came to me when we were sitting at the table. There were two players per table and Manuel Da Costa was with me.
"This guy came and asked for an autograph so I gave him his autograph. Then he asked me nicely how I was feeling so I just said I was tired from the game on Sunday and that it was a tough game. And then he just replied 'Oh, we're tired watching you play every weekend'.
"I was surprised and told Da Costa what the guy had said. Then the guy all of a sudden started screaming at me like crazy. I tried to calm him down but he didn't want to.
"He kept on screaming, then some players came and pushed me out of there. They just told me to walk away and tried to calm this guy but he didn't want to calm down and started smashing some tables and glasses.
"I got up to show I'm not impressed at all by him but this guy was a bit drunk. When my team-mates saw me they came between us. Danny Gabbidon came and said 'sit down', so I sat down and they tried to talk to him but he didn't want to talk to anybody."
Police were called to the £275-a-head event, but Sullivan insisted the incident had been "blown out of all proportion".
He told Sky Sports News: "It was one individual who had too much to drink, sadly a problem in British society. A player was racially abused by the same drunken supporter, which is not acceptable. Sadly one drunken supporter let the club down."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms