Club footballer sent off over 'monkey noises'

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:04 10/04/2014

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Capital Football has again been embroiled in racism allegations after a Wellington player was sent off for making monkey noises at an African opponent.

It was the Capital 4 Wellington United Arms team's first fixture of the new season, and the player has been suspended for the next 10 games while Capital Football, the region's governing body, investigates.

The code was already under a cloud after revelations of on-field discrimination last season, sparked by a complaint from African players from a Seatoun premier team. The investigation found at least 50 allegations of racially abusive comments recorded by the district's clubs in the past three years.

The latest incident was brought to Capital Football's attention by the referee of Saturday's match between teams from Wellington United and Kapiti Coast United at Newtown Park. He sent the player off when he believed he heard him making monkey noises.

According to KCU coach Andrew Elms, who was watching from the sideline, the player asked the referee why he was being sent off.

When told it was because the monkey noises were racist, the player responded: "Monkeys aren't a race," Elms said.

The player allegedly insulted is described by his coach as a dedicated player who lives in Wellington and catches the train to the Kapiti Coast for training.

Elms praised Capital Football and Wellington United for their swift handling of the matter. "We have got to stand strong against this kind of thing."

Capital Football chief executive Richard Reid said race-based heckling was not tolerated in any shape or form.

The sports body had issued clear directives to referees to crack down on any discriminatory behaviour, and Reid said any incidents would be dealt with severely.

In a letter to all the region's clubs, he wrote that there was "absolutely no room for conduct such as this to exist in football".

Last night he said the incident was disappointing, and the body had been vocal in reminding players to show respect on and off the field.

"It is an issue that appears across society, and certainly racism is not inherent to any one sport."

Wellington United chairman Anthony Mumby said the referee did the right thing and he hoped to get the two players together this Saturday so the United player could apologise.

"The Wellington United player concerned is sincerely remorseful that he has caused offence to the KCU player," Mumby said. "Wellington United is proud to be one of the most culturally diverse clubs in Capital Football, and we do not condone any physical or verbal abuse. Wellington United is deeply regretful of the incident."

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KCU won Saturday's game 6-0.

- The Dominion Post

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