The manager of a leading Slovenian football club has been allowed to keep his job after making a racial slur against one of his own players.
Marko Nikolic, head coach of Olimpija Ljubljana, directed the remark at Nigerian forward Blessing Eleke, after he had scored a late equaliser in against Zavrc.
Nikolic reportedly called Eleke a ‘black idiot’ after deeming the 20-year-old to have over-celebrated his goal, but after discussions with the player and the club hierarchy no action will be taken against the manager.
Olimpija’s president Milan Mandaric – who has previously owned Leicester City, Portsmouth and Sheffield Wednesday in England – said: “The club distances itself from all individual acts which contravene our philosophy and condemns such acts strongly.
“However, after careful consideration and talks with Nikolic and Eleke, we have come to the conclusion that the coach did not target the player’s race.
“It was an emotional reaction generated by an overwhelming desire to win the match.
“There is no excuse, but due to the circumstances, we have refrained from making a decision which would have affected the career of a young and talented coach who has a bright future.”
Olimpija are currently two points clear of champions Maribor at the top of the Slovenia’s top division, the PrvaLiga.
The club, which was originally founded in 1911 but had to be reformed in 2005 at the bottom of Slovenia’s league structure, has not won a league championship since 1995.
Nikolic, speaking to the club’s official website, said: “I spoke to Eleke and he said he understood my reaction because emotional outbursts of this kind can happen.
“I apologise for my reaction generated solely by the rush to score the winning goal after getting a 92nd-minute equaliser and I thank the team for not judging my act as racist.
“I never intended to offend the player racially or otherwise and I don’t want to be associated with intolerance, racism or discrimination of any kind.”
Nikolic, 36, has previously managed Rad, Vojvodina and most recently Partizan Belgrade in native Serbia, before joining Olimpija in January this year.
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