Jamie McGrath says Aberdeen’s players may have walked off the pitch had they known about alleged racist abuse directed at Dons substitute Pape Habib Gueye by PAOK fans.
Striker Gueye’s allegation – which has seen Reds chiefs make an official complaint to Uefa – has marred the aftermath of the Dons’ thrilling 2-2 Europa Conference League draw at Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki on Thursday evening.
McGrath, who scored a stunning 71st-minute free-kick to earn his side a point in Greece, says had the Reds players on the pitch known about the alleged incident involving unused sub Gueye – which happened before McGrath’s set-piece heroics – they could have refused to continue playing and left the field in protest.
The Irish midfielder said: “I only learned what happened after the game. I believe it involved Pape and some racism.
“It has no place in the game.
“I believe that is what happened and Pape was very upset in there.
“We had to gather around him.
“Nobody knew on the pitch and it is very disappointing to hear that in this day and age.
“If we’d have known then something may have been gained by walking off.”
After McGrath scored, Gueye’s fellow unused Dons subs, defenders Rhys Williams and Angus MacDonald – who knew about the alleged incident – showed their anger by celebrating enthusiastically in the direction of the home supporters.
This sparked a touchline melee involving figures from both clubs.
Aberdeen release statement on alleged racist abuse of Gueye
An Aberdeen statement after Thursday’s game read: “During the second half of this evening’s Europa Conference League match against PAOK, it was brought to our attention that an Aberdeen FC player, Pape Habib Gueye, was the victim of racial abuse from a section of PAOK supporters.
“Aberdeen FC club staff immediately informed the Uefa venue director and following conclusion of the match met with the Uefa match delegate to officially report the matter.
“Pape has the unwavering support of his teammates and all at Aberdeen FC will liaise fully with Uefa during the course of their investigations into this very serious matter.
“As a club we have zero tolerance for any form of discrimination or racist abuse. There is no place for such behaviour in football, or society as a whole.”
Senegalese forward Gueye, 24, joined Aberdeen in the summer from KV Kortrijk.
PAOK say Aberdeen claim is ‘clearly a product of imagination’
PAOK described Aberdeen’s complaint as “clearly a product of imagination, as it did not come to the attention of any official”.
Denying there have ever been any instances of “racist behaviour” at Toumba Stadium, they also hit out at “the defiant behaviour of the Aberdeen substitutes in their equaliser”.