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Fury at racist abuse of teen footballers

DIVERSE: The under 15's team photo

PARENTS WHO claimed their teenage sons were taunted by monkey chants while playing football have spoken out after reading about The Voice’s anti-racism campaign.

They have decided to back the campaign after players as young as 14 from Leicester based Nirvana Football Club (NFC) were allegedly bombarded with abuse by players, parents and supporters from opposing side Blaby and Whetstone Football Club (BWFC) during a match on October 14.

NFC, whose players are predominantly black and Asian, lodged a formal complaint with football authorities, the Kick It Out campaign and the police.
Parents decided to take the matter public after seeing The Voice’s Enough is Enough-Get Onside initiative.

Parent and NFC committee member, Corinne Melbourne, told The Voice: “When I saw your campaign, my heart jumped.

“I thought, is it now time for justice for these kids, for people to be accountable, because this is 30 years along the line, and nobody seems to be doing a thing about racism.”

The mother, whose 23-year-old son has been at the club since he was five, added: “As a parent I feel disappointed and let down by the FA for not following their own rules and procedures and protecting the kids. The FA is failing to protect the children.”

Witnesses claim monkey chants and gestures were directed at the NFC players. Spectator Mohamed Hajat said in a statement: “I heard some racist abuse being shouted by some of the Blaby players at our black players.”

In another statement, parent Vincent John claims the abuse took place in front of the referee.

Hajat, who spoke to the referee after the match, outlined that he was “surprised at [the referee’s] relaxed approach to the whole saga. [He] even denied hearing the abuse and the chanting which caused the commotion.”

Claims have also been made that racially pejorative terms such as “n****r” and “monkey” were used as well as threats of violence after the game and that one spectator went on the pitch to confront young people.

NFC chairman Kirk Master Master said: “I am disgusted with what I have heard from those in attendance and want some immediate action taken.

“The club have held an emergency meeting to discuss the matter, as we as a club are not under any circumstances going to allow this behaviour to occur against our players, parents or any other BME person city-wide.

CONCERN: NFC coach attends to one of his players during a recent local league match

He added: “The incident has been reported to Leicestershire County FA, the national FA, Kick It Out, and the police, and we also reported it to the Race Equality Council in Leicester.” As of yet, Master said only the county FA has acknowledged its complaint.

NFC formed 30 years ago as part of an inner city youth organisation known as Red Star.

“The incident that occurred bears parallels to the events experienced by England Under 21s against Serbia, at a grassroots level,” added the chairman.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first incident with them and our club – and other black clubs involved in the city, but this is the pinnacle of all the activity that has gone on previously.”

Chief executive of Leicestershire County FA, Keith Murdoch, said: “We have had a complaint and we are investigating that complaint.

“As I am going to be making the decision on what action to take, it would be inappropriate to make any comment on the incident. We have a set of laws of the game and the conduct of what we expect, and we have specific charges that can be applied. The question would be, have any of the rules been broken? If they have been broken then I do an assessment of which one and then I would issue the charge against that,” Murdoch added.

When contacted by The Voice, BWFC chairman Tony Galway acknowledged he was aware of the incident and said: “No comment.”

The Voice’s Enough is Enough –Get Onside campaign was launched on October 17 and calls for the FA and the UK Government take meaningful action to address institutional racism in football. It has been backed by well-known figures such as sports agent Ambrose Mendy, MPs Chuka Umunna and Chi Onwurah and race equality campaigner Lord (Herman) Ouseley.

Had enough of racism in football? Back our campaign Enough is Enough - Get Onside. Sign the petition here

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