Northern Ireland news

Sectarian abuse of former Rangers star Nacho Novo slammed

Former Rangers player Nacho Novo confronts a man in the International airport who was harassing him 
Michael McHugh, Press Association

A Belfast football club has said it was unacceptable that former Rangers player Nacho Novo was subjected to sectarian abuse at an airport in the city.

Novo confronted a Celtic fan at Belfast International Airport who was singing: "I hope you die in your sleep Nacho Novo."

The incident was filmed and footage posted on social media.

A statement from East Belfast FC said: "We feel it essential that we highlight the sectarian abuse and threats made to Nacho Novo.

"While travelling to Belfast from Glasgow to support our kids he found himself on a plane with Celtic supporters returning home from their game yesterday and was threatened, abused and disgusting things were also said about his family.

"This is not acceptable in this day (and) age."

The Spaniard had travelled to Belfast to attend East Belfast FC academy's prizegiving day for players aged 11 and 12.

He suffered a suspected heart attack earlier this year during a tournament in Berlin.

The club called on the PSNI to investigate.

Novo played for east Belfast side Glentoran in 2016-17.

East Belfast FC said in a Facebook post: "We would like to express our deep gratitude to Nacho Novo for making his way to Belfast to present all the 06 section with their trophies and also delivering what was an amazing day for many kids connected with East Belfast FC.

"Not many sporting heroes go out of their way to travel from another country to do what Nacho did, the smiles on the kids faces spoke a million words and Nacho has promised to continue his support for our club."

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