Mill AFC: Racism cover up row erupts after Edinburgh Star AFC clash with rivals
A row over an alleged racist incident has engulfed an Edinburgh football club and their Falkirk rivals, with one side accused of trying to mask a player’s identity from league officials in leaked group chat messages.
Edinburgh Star AFC assistant manager, Khadir Idelmenchar, claims he was racially abused from the sidelines during his team’s 4-0 away defeat to Mill AFC on Wednesday afternoon.
The 29-year-old, who is of Moroccan descent, told the Evening News that a spectator at Victoria Park shouted at him to “to lay off the sunbeds”.
The incident was recorded by the referee, who asked Mill AFC for the spectator’s name, and later reported it to the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur Football Association (LEAFA).
After the match, an Edinburgh Star AFC spokesperson issued a statement condemning the “disgusting comment” but defended their opponents.
“Shaming Mill AFC is not what we want to do here because of one small minded individual,” they said.
In a response, the Falkirk side wrote: “[We] 100 per cent agree and we stand with Edinburgh Star.”
Mill AFC insisted that the spectator was “nobody associated with our club” and ended their post with the hashtag: #SayNoToRacism.
But solidarity between the two clubs soon collapsed after screenshots of a private Mill AFC Facebook group chat were leaked online.
Messages in the chat appear to show members admit that the spectator accused of racism was actually a Mill AFC player - despite the club’s earlier public denial.
One member also appears to explain how he had given the referee a fake name for the accused player so that he - and the club - would avoid punishment from LEAFA officials.
When approached, a spokesperson for Mill AFC declined to comment.
Cover up allegations have already hit the club financially, with at least one of its major sponsors withdrawing support on Thursday.
Edinburgh Star’s Mr Idelmenchar called the row a “sad state of affairs”.
“I could count on both hands how many people play amateur football that are black,” he said.
“[This is] happening far to many times at amateur football,” he added, “especially teams covering it up.”
LEAFA, the league’s governing body has yet to respond to the Evening News’ request for comment.