Police investigate alleged racist abuse during Sunderland draw with Newcastle

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Police have begun an investigation into an allegation of racist abuse at the bitter Premier League derby between Sunderland and Newcastle United on Sunday.

Northumbria Police said there were 15 arrests from a crowd of almost 50,000 and praised the majority for their behaviour.

The force said there were "very few" incidents during the 1-1 draw inside the stadium, though Sunderland fans were heard to sing they wished Newcastle United's Steven Taylor was dead. The player had been outspoken in the build-up about the rivalry between the two clubs.

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A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "There was one report of racist language having been used by a supporter in one area of the stadium - enquiries into this report are ongoing."

Chief Supt Steve Neill said: "The vast majority of fans were well behaved today and enjoyed the Wear-Tyne derby for the great occasion that it is.

"15 arrests out of crowd of that size is very low.

"I'm pleased that the vast majority of fans who attended today were clearly there to enjoy the football and were not interested in causing trouble.

"I'd like to praise supporters from both clubs - they worked well with officers on the ground, were extremely patient and good natured and enjoyed the day in the best sprit."

Police said six of the 15 arrests were made at 5am in a pre-planned operation and they were held on suspicion of drugs offences.