Irish schoolboys walk off soccer field due to ‘racist abuse’

Carrigaline United U15s made a brave decision in a crucial league match – and they’ve been punished for it in a manner that seems, at least on the face of it, unimaginably harsh.

One of the team had been subjected to what the Irish examiner described as “a tirade of verbal racist abuse” from one of the players on the opposing team during a Cork Schoolboys League match.

All of the players, and in particular the victim, were hugely disturbed by what had taken place as they came in at half-time – and with the referee taking no action, Carrigaline manager Mark McCarthy refused to allow his players back on the pitch.

Did the league support the stand against racism? they did not – and indeed McCarthy was called in front of the league’s disciplinary panel, at which the team was handed a €200 fine.

“I know things are said on the field of play, but you have to take a stand,” McCarthy told the paper.

“We are a multicultural society and our sports clubs and teams reflect that. We feel we are being punished for taking a stand. These are only kids who want to play a game and we think the league is hiding behind the rule book here.”

There is a caveat to add to the story at this point: the match was a crucial game which Carrigaline needed to win to avoid relegation. They were trailing 1-0 at half-time when they refused to re-start, so the logical inference from the league’s decision – albeit one not articulated in the Irish Examiner’s piece – is that Carrigaline’s complaint was dismissed out of hand and the club simply fined for refusing to play and demanding a re-match in a game that was going against them.

It was not the first time during the season that the Carrigaline player had been abused, an incident which came up before the league’s disciplinary committee – but McCarthy claims that his victim felt that his appearance before that committee following the first incident was not worthwhile:

“He felt it was a waste of his time,” McCarthy explained.

“He’s been subjected to this kind of thing twice. The second time, I had to make a stand.”

The Examiner’s report adds that “Eddie Doyle, the honorary secretary of the Cork Schoolboys League, declined to discuss the details of the disciplinary committee hearings. But he said the league does follow the FAI’s code of practice for dealing with racist incidents, which are on the increase.”

It is not the first time that a player has walked off to protest racist abuse: AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up the ball and walked off the pitch after being abused during a friendly last year, forcing the abandonment of the game.

The Italian FA’s stance was very different: they branded it “unspeakable and intolerable” and saluted Boateng for his stand, while FIFA president Sepp Blatter subsequently backed the decision to walk off. – Eurosport