THE Gaelic Players' Association (GPA) has backed the Wexford County Board's decision to hand two-month bans to two footballers who were found guilty of racist abuse in a senior club game.
The Duffry Rovers duo were found to have made comments to inter-county footballer Lee Chin, who was playing against them for Wexford town club Sarsfields. The incident was mentioned in referee Brendan Martin's report and the county board launched an investigation on receipt of that report.
It is understood Mr Martin was specific in his report as to the racist remarks made by a player from the club, along with a substitute.
Both clubs participated in the county's Central Competitions Control Committee ( CCCC) inquiry which found the two players guilty. Both received two-month bans, but were not named and Duffry Rovers were not fined after co-operating in the investigation.
"Racism is a problem that, if allowed to go unchecked, is a huge threat, and the GAA have made huge strides to promote integration," a GPA spokesman told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"If incidents like this are even perceived to be taken lightly then it is a huge threat to the reputation of the game. So I would commend the board for taking action swiftly.
"It is something we need to be vigilant about, but it is not something that comes to us regularly. Quite often it is about education, awareness and people taking responsibility for their actions. "It is not something that would have come on our radar in the inter-county game, but there have been incidents in the club game," he said.
Lee Chin has played minor hurling and football for Wexford, and progressed to the U-21 set-up in both codes this year.
One of the leading dual players in the county, he was left half-back on the Wexford senior football team which defeated Longford in a replay and, but for his heavy commitments, would also be a part of Liam Dunne's senior hurling set-up.
Wexford county chairman Diarmuid Devereux condemned the incident. "Lee Chin is a Wexford man, born in Wexford, living in Wexford, educated in Wexford and working in Wexford. He is one of our stars of the future. Hopefully, many more will follow his example," he said.
"Racism is something that will not be tolerated within Wexford GAA. That was also reflected in the way both clubs dealt with the matter.
"Both clubs accepted that kind of behaviour cannot, and will not, be accepted in Wexford GAA.
"The CCCC have dealt with the matter fairly and showed that racism will not be tolerated. In the years to come, the GAA is going to be more ethnically diverse so it's important to send out a clear message we'll not accept such racist abuse."