Chelsea 2, Leicester City 1 … Alvaro Morata has told Chelsea supporters to “respect everyone” after the club condemned a song about the Spaniard that includes an anti-Semitic slur.
It was heard during their win against Leicester on Saturday and Morata later indicated he wanted fans to clean up the content of their chants.
The club-record acquisition from Real Madrid is establishing himself as a hero at his new club and he headed his third goal of the season to open the scoring on Saturday.
But the adulation he receives from some Chelsea fans embodies itself in a song aimed at fierce rivals Tottenham, who have a large Jewish fanbase.
“Alvaro, Alvaro. He comes from Madrid, he hates the f****** Y***” sang Chelsea supporters at the King Power Stadium.
Chelsea swiftly said Morata wanted to disassociate himself from the song, and the player later wrote on Twitter: “Since I arrived, I have been able to feel your support every single day, you are amazing and I’d like to ask you to please respect everyone!”
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was asked about the song and its content at a post-match press conference but head of communications and public affairs Steve Atkins quickly stepped in.
“I don’t think Antonio was aware of the song so if I can just speak on behalf of the club,” Atkins said.
“The club and the players appreciate the fans’ passionate support away from home, of course. But the language in that song is not acceptable at all.
“We’ve spoken to Alvaro after the game and he does not want to be connected to that song in any way and both the player and the club request that the supporters stop singing that song with immediate effect.”
It is not the first such incident involving Chelsea fans. Videos appeared on social media of some supporters singing anti-Semitic songs ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham in April, while videos also emerged of some Chelsea fans pushing a black commuter off a Metro train in Paris in February 2015 ahead of a Champions League tie.
Speaking on football matters, Conte was pleased with Morata’s performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win and thinks the striker is getting better the more he plays.
“It is a good day for the team and a good day for Alvaro,” said Conte. “It is always important for a striker to score but for me it is important he is improving and always more involved in our football.
“But if he scores, I am very happy. I am pleased for the player.”
Much of the pre-match talk centred on Danny Drinkwater but it was another former Leicester player who returned to haunt them in the shape of N’Golo Kante.
Drinkwater’s central-midfield foil during the Foxes’ 2015-16 Premier League title-winning season was his usual energetic, tidy self and capped a typically consistent display with a goal from 25 yards to double Chelsea’s lead.
Jamie Vardy pulled one back for the hosts from the penalty spot but Conte’s team held on for the three points.
The Italian manager also praised Kante, saying: “N’Golo played an amazing game but we are used to seeing he is a fantastic player.
“He makes good runs and he is improving a lot with his passing and finishing. It is important to see he is improving, improving his weaknesses. But N’Golo is a really good player.”
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare felt his team battled admirably but thinks they just did not get the rub of the green.
“Performance-wise I thought it was okay, looking at the commitment and endeavour. History tells you Chelsea may go on and win by three or four but we showed a lot of character and resilience,” said Shakespeare.
“When we got back to 2-1 we just couldn’t find that final bit that was required to get something from the game and I just feel at the moment the big moments aren’t going our way.”