Celtic winger Aleksandar Tonev has insisted he is not a racist as he prepares to resume a seven-match ban for abusing Aberdeen full-back Shay Logan.
The on-loan Aston Villa player was described as neither a “credible or reliable” witness by a Scottish Football Association-appointed judicial panel in a report that was made public on Tuesday after he lost his appeal against his ban for using racist language.
In a statement posted on the Celtic website, Tonev said: “A lot has happened in the last few months. It has been a very difficult time for me and everyone involved. All I can do is move on from this now.
“I have made my case all along that I never used the words I was accused of using. I say again that I did not do this, I know what I am and I am not a racist.
“I want everyone to understand that, most of all the Celtic fans, who have been a great support to me since coming to the club. I know what happened and I know that I will definitely recover from this as a stronger person.”
Celtic have stood by the Bulgarian despite parts of his evidence being described as “unsatisfactory”.
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The club vowed to address the case with the SFA following the verdict of the appeal panel, which called for both its report and the original panel’s findings to be made public.
Tonev had already served the first of his seven-match suspension before Celtic appealed and the next match he is eligible for is against Ross County on 24 January.
Meanwhile, John Guidetti is determined to make up for lost time when Inter Milan visit Celtic Park in February.
The Swedish striker, on loan from Manchester City, was forced to sit out the Europa League qualifiers because he missed the registration deadline.
However, Guidetti has seen enough to believe Celtic have the ability to go all the way in the competition.
The 22-year-old frontman said: “It’s the medals we want and the medals we live for.
“I want to win every single competition we are in. We can win the Europa League, but it’s all about how hard we work for each other. There are some fantastic teams in the ournament and it is a much more difficult competition than people may think.
“For a start, there are the likes of Liverpool and Napoli and my old club Feyenoord, as well.
“We know that we have the chance to progress in the knock-out stages and the support will be right behind us. This is not an easy place to come to and with our team we can do a lot of good things.”
Guidetti is on loan until the end of the season and Celtic have agreed a £3 million fee with his parent club to make the deal permanent. But the man who has struck 11 goals in 13 starts for the SPFL champions has yet to make a firm decision on his future.
He is out of contract at the end of the season and is concentrating fully on doing his best for Ronny Deila’s side. Guidetti added: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all I want is to play in front of a full Celtic Park. That is my ambition.”
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