Racially-abused footballer dismayed at FA misconduct charge

22nd October, 2021 3:57 pm

A footballer whose team could face an FA fine for walking off the pitch after he was racially abused says “it sends out completely the wrong message”.

Gillingham Town Reserves midfielder Eboni McCann said the abuse was “hurled” at him by a fan at the cup tie against Bridport Reserves on 9 October.

The club has been charged with a misconduct offence by the FA under its E20 rule.

An FA panel will hear the case to determine any punishment.

The BBC understands the circumstances of the team leaving the pitch will be taken into account.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent about the abuse, Mr McCann said: “My instant reaction was shock and disbelief, I have never been abused playing sport.

“I just went to my manager and said what had happened then the rest of the team followed me off the pitch and we decided we were not going to carry on.

“At the time I said [to the fan] you can’t say that and they brazenly said ‘yes I can’.

“I feel a bit embarrassed that people can make you feel that way just by speaking about your colour. We shouldn’t have to put up with that on a Saturday afternoon.”

Mr McCann added: “I can’t see how you can charge a team for being racially abused and not wanting to carry on – it sends out completely the wrong message.”

He added after posting details about the abuse and the FA’s actions on social media he had received “huge support – which is really lovely to see”.

‘Not acceptable’

Paul Hill, secretary of Gillingham Town Football Club, said he was “surprised” at the charge.

He said: “We would support the team always in that situation to leave the field of play. It’s just not acceptable.”

He added a businessman in Bridport had come forward to offer to pay any fines given to the club.

An FA spokesperson said: “The FA stands firmly against all forms of prejudice and we take all allegations of this nature extremely seriously.

“We encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of, or witness to, discriminatory abuse to report it through the appropriate channels… so incidents can be thoroughly investigated.”

Bridport FC banned a home fan for life after the incident at its St Mary’s ground.

Dorset Police said a 74-year-old local man attended a voluntary interview but no arrest was made and an investigation was ongoing.

Source: BBC News, October 2021

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