Youth football match abandoned in Edinburgh amid racist abuse allegation

A YOUTH football match was abandoned when a coach pulled her players from the pitch after one of them was allegedly racially abused.
Reports of racist abuse at youth games are on the riseReports of racist abuse at youth games are on the rise
Reports of racist abuse at youth games are on the rise

A black 15-year-old Hutchison Vale player is understood to have accused a Leith Athletic opponent of using a highly offensive term in Saturday’s under-16 clash on Leith Links.

It was the second allegation of racial abuse in games involving teens in the Capital on the same day - while a league official said such reports now happen weekly.

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“We’re in a no-win situation,” said Scottish Youth Football Association league secretary Allan Archibald.

Douglas Dalgleish called for action to tackle racist abuseDouglas Dalgleish called for action to tackle racist abuse
Douglas Dalgleish called for action to tackle racist abuse

“There have been allegations of racial abuse - it happens every weekend but when the referee doesn’t hear anything and there’s no witnesses, there’s not a lot you can do.”

The second alleged incident on Saturday involved an Edinburgh South under 17 player accused of racially abusing and threatening to “knife” a Tynecastle FC opponent at Saughton.

Officials at Leith Athletic are understood to have investigated and found no wrongdoing while Edinburgh South said they were unaware of any such allegations.

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The alleged abuse of a 16-year-old Tynecastle FC player of South East Asian origin only came to light when he mentioned it at training on Monday night.

Douglas Dalgleish, CEO of Tynecastle FC said: “I don’t know whether the referee didn’t hear it or whether he did hear it and didn’t want to get involved.”

And of the Hutchie Vale walk-off, he added: “It was absolutely disgusting and I admire them for doing it - not everybody would take that stance that they did.

“We have a duty of care for the players - all coaches have a duty of care and there has to be action.

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“TV has highlighted racism in the senior game and youngsters feel that they can get away with it - it has to stop.

“Clubs have to take action and make sure players understand they could be out of the game for a long time - and rightly so.”

English Premier League managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp reportedly said they would be prepared to take their players off the pitch in a bid to combat racist abuse.

Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council chairman Foysol Choudhury said: “If this allegation is proven, and it has to be proven to be fair to both sides, then this coach has done a great job and should be applauded.

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“If you start at the younger level, then it helps with the professional level as well. It encourages others to come forward and take action as well.”

Mr Douglas said coaches should ask referees what action they intend to take before deciding on their own course - including potentially boycotting future games.

“I’ve been in the game for 50 years and there’s always been banter but nothing like this - it’s nasty and horrible and it’s getting worse.

“Clubs have to take action now to stamp this out or else it’ll get ten times worse - it’s something we don’t want in the game.”

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Edinburgh South committee member Joe Sneddon said there were no reports of racial abuse made to the club which works with young players on acceptable behaviour.

“I have again spoken to the officials at the game and they strongly refute that any racism took place,” he added.

“Our U17’s are a mixed race team and have never had any instances of racism within the team or reported against them.”

A spokesman for Leith Athletic said: "There was no complaint made and Leith Athletic as a club - as much to protect our player who was visibly upset by the incident - carried out an internal investigation.

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"There were no witnesses to corroborate either story and as a result there's no guidance provided to the club on how we can then deal with that matter.

"The club would - as any youth club in Scotland would - welcome any guidance to be provided."

Hutchison Vale were approached for comment.