herald

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Sars call for GAA to give racism red card

THE home club of Lee Chin, the Wexford dual player racially abused by two opponents during a club football match earlier this year, have confirmed that they will table an anti-racism motion to Wexford's annual GAA convention next month.

Sarsfields GFC are in the process of finalising a proposal to make racial or sectarian abuse an instant red card offence.

As matters stand, the GAA's Official Guide already has a rule outlawing any conduct by deed, word or gesture "of a sectarian or racist nature against any player, official, spectator or anyone else".

Offenders found guilty of the above are said to have "discredited the association" and it was under this rule that two Duffry Rovers footballers were suspended for eight weeks last June. This followed an investigation by the Wexford county board's CCC into the racial abuse of Chin during a senior football championship match between Sarsfields and Duffry Rovers last April.

The controversy sparked widespread media coverage at the time and, while Sarsfields were satisfied with how Wexford GAA chiefs handled the investigation, they believe it highlighted the pressing need for a new rule allowing referees to deal with such incidents on the spot.

"At the moment there is no real rule governing these incidents," Sarsfields chairman Ger Halligan told the Evening Herald. "The situation at the moment is a yellow card. Even when this case went before the powers-that-be in Wexford, the CCC, there was no direct rule governing incidents of racial abuse. Really it's just about trying to get something put into the rules. I think in other sports it is a red card offence."

Halligan's stance echoes earlier comments by the player himself. Interviewed by Newstalk's Off The Ball earlier this month, Chin said: "I know they've got an eight-week ban, but I've been chatting with one of my soccer managers in Wexford.

"One of his underage players, he was only a youth or something, was abused two years ago and the guy that abused him ... got a six-month ban ... and he got a red card in that game too. I was comparing how the FAI deal with things with the GAA. I thought the players got off very lightly with a yellow card and an eight-week ban."

Racist

The Wexford native - who made his SFC debut with the county footballers last summer and is hoping to juggle both codes at senior level next year - also revealed that racist remarks are "something I've faced throughout the years, as far back as I can remember".

Halligan, who managed the Wexford senior footballers during the early noughties, stressed that Sarsfields have "no axe to grind" with the Wexford county board while adding: "In fairness to the referee, on the day he did exactly what he could do under any existing rules."

He said their intention was to "empower the referee on the day" and, based on whatever action he takes, there could be "an appropriate sanction" afterwards.

Halligan was confident that fellow Wexford clubs will support their motion when it goes before annual convention on Monday, December 17 in Enniscorthy.

"A lot of clubs have been behind it. In fairness the club directly involved, Duffry Rovers, have been fully supportive. I couldn't see anybody going against it," the Sarsfields chief suggested.

Reflecting on how the GAA has become more "multicultural", Halligan predicted that "more issues might arise over the years. Unless the GAA has the rules to deal with it, it will be a problem so they might as well start now.

"It happened this year with us and then we were committed (to do something). It's really a starting point, and maybe the powers-that-be will take it on and formalise it correctly," he concluded.

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