Raith Rovers forward Rudi Skacel has described a section of the Hibernian supporters as “embarrassing” after claiming fans aimed offensive “refugee” remarks at him throughout the Christmas Eve clash between the sides.
Skacel is guaranteed a warm reception from the Hearts supporters when Rovers host his former club in Sunday’s televised William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie, but the Czech Republic internationalist admits he was appalled by the verbal abuse he suffered at Easter Road.
As the 37-year-old attempted to defend making the inflammatory “5-1” gesture to the home fans after being substituted during the 1-1 draw, Skacel insisted, “kids, guys in suits and old ladies” all targeted him with insulting comments.
Skacel has not been shy in winding up the Hibs fans about the 5-1 Scottish Cup final triumph for Hearts after scoring two goals in that victory over their fierce city rivals in 2012.
After moving to Dundee United later that year, Skacel even picked out the vacant 51 squad number to commemorate the Hampden win.
However, the veteran playmaker insists some Hibs have “crossed the line”.
“I’m shocked that such a big deal was made about what I did [the gesture],” said Skacel.
“No one cares how they treated me for 90 minutes out there. They called me a refugee and other names. It was not my fault they lost 5-1. Instead you should care about how they treat people.
“I had small kids and their parents calling me names, and they think it’s fine. I think it’s embarrassing. You should write about these things instead. There can be banter but what happened was embarrassing. Of course, it is painful for them, but you have to be a human being. It is just football.
“The abuse is always bad there. The kids repeat what they hear from the adults next to them. How would you react if people called you a refugee?
“But I do a gesture and they react by criticising me and saying I should be banned from football. That is so funny.
“Children were saying it to me and even old ladies. It’s embarrassing. There are guys dressed up in suits too.”
Skacel, yet to score in 17 appearances for Gary Locke’s Raith after returning to Scotland from Mlada Boleslav in his homeland last summer, added: “I was shocked. It is embarrassing for all of Hibs’ community, in my opinion.
“I played for Hearts and we beat them on so many occasions and I scored a few goals against them, so I understand why they don’t like me, but it should be more about banter.
“There needs to be a line, and I think, in every game, they are crossing it. We are human beings. If you go to rugby, it shows a different example of how people support their club.”
Celtic striker and Hibs fan Leigh Griffiths, pictured, was admonished in September 2015 after pleading guilty in court to singing an offensive song aimed at Skacel that contained the word refugee. The Scottish FA also meted out a suspended two-match suspension.
Skacel, meanwhile, insists he is prepared to bid the Hearts supporters an emotional farewell on Sunday after admitting that he is likely to retire from football this summer. Regarded as a club legend, Skacel scored 48 goals during two spells at Tynecastle, including a strike in the 2006 Scottish Cup final victory over Gretna.
Skacel turns 38 in July and admits he is preparing for a future away from the game, with a children’s coaching school in Los Angeles part of his plan.
He added: “I think I will finish at the end of the season, but you never know. It depends how I feel. I feel fine just now but you can’t play forever.
“It could be my last time in front of the Hearts fans, but I don’t have anything special planned, honestly. I don’t even know if I will play.”
Asked if he would celebrate scoring against Hearts, Skacel replied: “No comment. It will be strange to play against my Hearts. During the game it will be strange on Sunday because it is 90 minutes playing against supporters who always got behind me. It’s a special game. I won’t lie.”
Hibs were contacted yesterday regarding Skacel’s comments but declined to comment.