Northern Ireland news

Racist abuse hurled at restaurant owner after Northern Ireland match

Ali Askir, owner of SAFA in Belfast city centre was subjected to racist chants near Windsor Park
Andrea McKernon

A restaurant owner suffered racist abuse after a Northern Ireland soccer game at the weekend.

Police launched an investigation after racist chanting at Ali Askir while he drove in the area of Windsor Park on Saturday afternoon.

A number of people standing in the area of Donegall Avenue and Kitchener Street launched the tirade at the father-of-one at about 4pm.

It is believed the men involved were football fans.

It came after Northern Ireland's defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina at Windsor Park.

Mr Askir is a well-known member of the business community and founded the Irish curry awards. He owns the restaurant SAFA.

He wrote on Twitter: "I’m not to sure after today’s incident whether I’m glad to be in Belfast or not, racial chanting simply because my motor says Irish Curry Awards, hear is new one for me p*** Irish b*****d."

Mr Askir received support on social media with the official account of the Irish Football Association (IFA) responding by inviting him to be a VIP guest at Northern Ireland's game against Austria.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has appealed to players in the Northern Ireland squad to pull out of tomorrow's fixture with Israel.

West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan said if the IFA fails to cancel the soccer friendly, players should pull out of the fixture.

“We held a protest today against the IFA’s plans to play a soccer friendly against the Israeli national team at Windsor Park on Tuesday night," he said yesterday.

“We have called on the IFA to cancel this match in the same way that the Argentinian national team pulled out of a pre-World Cup game with the Israelis earlier this year.

And he added: “Sinn Féin support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign which involves the economic, cultural and sporting boycott of the Israeli state.

“Apartheid has no place in sport and fans should highlight this by leaving the stands empty.

“At this late stage, I am urging the IFA to cancel Tuesday’s match and if they fail to do so, players should pull out of this fixture."

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