Police searching for fan who racially abused Ifill

Last updated 13:37 17/12/2012

Despite a better performance than last week, the 3-1 loss to Adelaide United leaves the Wellington Phoenix struggle to make the playoffs.

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Travelling Wellington Phoenix fans celebrate during the win over Perth Glory.
Paul Ifill
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TAUNTED: Paul Ifill has claimed he was the target of racial abuse from Adelaide fans.

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Adelaide United and police are still hunting a fan who racially abused Phoenix star Paul Ifill during Sunday's A-League match in Adelaide.

Ifill, an English-born Barbados international, says he was racially vilified by a minority of the Hindmarsh Stadium crowd during his club's 3-1 loss.

Adelaide captain Eugene Galekovic says the abuse shouldn't be tolerated.

"I don't condone racial sledges or anything like that but I don't know what was said so I will leave it up to the club," Galekovic told reporters in Adelaide on Monday.

"Racial abuse is something different ... society these days, there is a line and you can't really cross that line anymore."

An upset Ifill took to Twitter after the loss, saying: ''Bad times poor result and racist abuse from a very small minority of fans #nothappy.''

Ifill, who has spent the majority of his career playing in England, said the Phoenix had reported the incident.

''Been a long time since IV had to deal with anything like that... to be fair I believe it's an isolated incident have to say its a 1st for me in the @ALeague.''

Ifill's claims were backed up by teammates, who also expressed their disgust on Twitter.

''Unbelievable the things I heard from the bench...it's 2012 people,'' wrote midfielder Alex Smith, who was on the bench at the time.

''I'll leave it for now but I will say it was very racist and disgraceful...''

Reserve goalkeeper Griffin McMaster described the abuse as ''unacceptable''.

''In addition racist behavior occurred which is unacceptable, then for the alleged people to do a runner #unacceptable,'' he wrote on Twitter.

AAP reported a spectator was heard to call Ifill a derogatory racial term.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert refused to confirm the racial nature of the abuse.

''It's not for me to confirm or not,'' Herbert said.

But an Adelaide United spokesman said the club was aware of the incident.

''We will investigate the matter,'' the spokesman said.

Police are now investigating the incident and a Football Federation Australia spokesman said the governing body would also investigate.

''FFA will investigate any incidence of racial vilification,'' the spokesman said.

Ifill was unavailable for interview last night and a Phoenix spokesman said the matter was now in the hands of Adelaide officials.

Racial abuse is a hot topic in the English Premier League.

Former England captain John Terry provided the highest profile case and eventually apologised for abusing Anton Ferdinand and accepted a four game ban.

On the field, the Phoenix actually played some decent attacking football last night but they had a legitimate goal disallowed and there were all sorts of problems at the other end.

Herbert's side has now dropped out of the top-six, and it doesn't get any easier as red-hot Central Coast come to town on Saturday.

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All Whites Mark Paston and Tony Lochhead will bear the brunt of the criticism for some poor defending.

Paston allowed Marcelo Carrusca's free kick to bounce into the back of the net in the 19th minute, although the goalkeeper was let down by his defenders.

Blindsided, Paston failed to lay a mitt on the ball, expecting Adelaide's Osama Malik or one of his own men to get a touch yet no-one did.

There wasn't much the big custodian could do about Carrusca's second however.

The classy Argentine has the sweetest left foot in the league and he let rip with a pin point shot from the edge of the box to make it 2-0 after just 24 minutes.

Paston was irate afterwards, as the back-tracking Lochhead and Andrew Durante allowed Carrusca far too much space to advance and cut back inside.

Gareth Morgan's whims aside, it meant the Phoenix had no option but attack and they deserved to reduce the deficit midway through the half.

Stein Huysegems was level with Adelaide's Iain Fyfe as Ifill sent in a shot/cross which the Belgian bundled into the back of the net - only to be wrongly adjudged offside by the linesman.

Herbert and his right hand man Chris Greenacre were rightly upset and the Phoenix, previously dudded by Jeronimo Neumann's dive, aren't having much luck with officials in Adelaide.

Frustrations started to creep into Phoenix play but in no way can they blame the decision for the defeat.

High-flying Adelaide landed the killer blow through Fabio Ferreira in stoppage time of the first half.

The Portugese winger's run sprung the offside trap as Lochhead was left stranded and Ferreira finished well although Paston will feel he should have done better.

Glen Moss' hernia means Paston's job is safe for the time being.
Herbert's headaches intensified at halftime, as captain Durante was subbed off with a calf problem.

Manny Muscat joined club centurion Ben Sigmund in defence and the Phoenix got some reward for their attacking endeavours via Dani Sanchez.

The Spaniard, in the starting XI for the first time this season, hit the rebound in after his first shot was blocked, following nice build-up from Tyler Boyd.

In extra time Boyd then had a chance to open his A-League account but his penalty and follow-up were both saved in spectacular fashion by Eugene Galekovic.

Adelaide, rubbish last season, are showing what can be achieved with superb recruitment.

Carrusca, Ferreira and Neumann are all providing a point of difference with their technical ability while two of the Phoenix's imports - Alex Smith and Benjamin Totori - started last night's match on the bench.

And another, Huysegems, was dragged off early as he struggled to get into the flow of the match.

- Fairfax NZ and AAP


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