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Jan 29, 2013

AZ's Altidore subjected to racist chants

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- American forward Jozy Altidore was the target of racist chants Tuesday during AZ Alkmaar's 5-0 win over second-tier Den Bosch in the quarterfinals of the Dutch Cup.

Altidore, who is black, said he had never faced such serious abuse from the stands.

"There's nothing I can do about it," he told Dutch television's Eredivisie Live. "All I can do is pray for them and hope they can become better people."

Referee Reinold Wiedemeijer wanted to stop the match in the first half because of "jungle sounds chanted at Altidore," according to AZ's official Twitter feed. But AZ players, including Altidore, who is black, persuaded him not to.

Wiedemeijer halted play briefly in the second half because of fans throwing balls of ice at his linesmen, according to the Dutch Eredivisie official Twitter feed and Dutch news website Nu.nl.

"It is terribly sad that this can happen for those involved and for lovers of football in the Netherlands," AZ soccer director Earnie Stewart, a former U.S. national team midfielder, told Dutch television's Eredivisie Live at halftime. "You hear that and wonder what on earth is going on."

Stewart said Den Bosch officials are "ashamed" of the fans involved. The club repeatedly urged its fans to halt the chants, to no avail.

Altidore scored one goal in AZ's 5-0 victory, increasing his total this season to a career-best 20, one more than in 2011-12. Den Bosch finished with nine men after two players were ejected.

"Obviously, we hear about those things and (we're) not pleased with it at all," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "When that type of stuff happens, no matter where in the world you go, you don't want to see it. He told me about it."

After a match between youth teams near Amsterdam in December, had players attacked and fatally injured a linesman.

"It's a bit disappointing that these things still happen in this time that we're in," Altidore said. "But what you going to do? You just hope these people can find a way to improve themselves. You can only pray for them."

The 23-year-old Altidore focused on the need for education.

"At the end of the day it's still alive, racism. All we can do now is try to educate ourselves, the young kids coming up, to be better than that," he said.

Den Bosch repeatedly urged its fans to halt the monkey chants, to no avail.

The club's director, Peter Bijvelds, blamed "malicious supporters making a scandalous mess" of the evening. He said Den Bosch, AZ and the referee considered abandoning the match, but decided against it.

"We can't deny that, certainly when we play top matches ... we have a structural problem with a group of people who ruin things," Bijvelds told Dutch radio. "We have to crack down on it."

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