independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Millwall ‘appalled’ by footage of alleged racism by fans

MILLWALL Football Club said it was "appalled" by footage which appears to show supporters racially abusing a Leeds player during a match earlier this season.

It has urged Sky Sports News - which aired the scenes last night - to pass the clips to police and has promised to ban any individuals for life if they are found guilty.

The footage appears to show fans hurling insults at Leeds forward and Senegal international El-Hadji Diouf during a clash between the two clubs on November 18.

Millwall has vowed to reopen an investigation into allegations of racial abuse which initially emerged online.

Lions chief executive Andy Ambler said: "Like all Millwall fans and football fans generally, we're appalled by the footage we've seen."

He added: "Clearly that behaviour is unacceptable in any football ground in the country and at Millwall we will ban the individuals for life and we hope that Sky will pass the footage to the police so that further action can be taken.

"Sadly racism exists in our society and certain individuals want to bring it into football grounds. It's down to us in football do to more.

"We think football is the solution to the problem and the work that we do will continue and we need to continue it.

"That day against Leeds obviously there was an allegation of abuse made online initially. We investigated it straight away.

"We interviewed stewards, police, players, we looked at the TV footage too as it was live on Sky.

"After speaking to the player who had the alleged abuse at him during the day, he said that he heard no abuse on the day so that was basically at that point the end of the investigation - although we're going to open it again now."

The alleged episode took place during an npower Championship match at Millwall's stadium, the Den, in south-east London.

Bolton forward Marvin Sordell has previously made allegations of racial abuse towards Millwall's fans.

A banner stating "Sordell is a c***" was unfurled at a later game which came in the wake of his claims, while a 13-year-old boy was banned from the ground.

Sordell who represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, has faced racial abuse on social media websites and claims he is not shocked that such things still occur.

He said: "We're a developed, multi-cultural society. It's surprising it can still go on - but it doesn't exactly shock me.

"We can't be silent about it. We need to make people aware that there is a problem going on and only when people are aware of the problem can it be sorted out.

"As long as people are brave enough I'd say to come out and say exactly what's happened to them then I think we'll be going in the right direction because the first thing that needs to happen is that we can't be silent about it."

The 21-year-old admitted abuse can inspire him, adding: "Sometimes it gives me that bit more fire to prove people wrong and that I can rise above it."

David Bernstein, the FA chairman, is treating allegations with the utmost importance, telling Sky Sports News: "These issues bother me intensely. They have become top of my agenda in terms of moving these things on and combating these things.

"The awareness of it could not be higher."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) takes any allegation of racist chanting and/or behaviour very seriously.

"If any matters are brought to our attention they will of course be thoroughly investigated as part of Operation Arrowtip, which is the Metropolitan Police Service's ongoing football operation to challenge individuals or groups engaged in football related disorder or criminality.

"The MPS routinely work very closely with football clubs and partner agencies to monitor behaviour to ensure public confidence and safety."

Chief Superintendent Mick Johnson, from the MPS Public Order Branch, said: "It is important that we work with football clubs and the football authorities, including the FA, to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about what constitutes racist language or behaviour and that we work with clubs to educate, encourage and empower supporters to stamp out racism in football.

"Some words which historically have been perceived by some as acceptable cause harassment, alarm or distress to others, and people who use this language could be committing a criminal offence.

"Offensive language, within football chants or otherwise, has no place within football, or indeed in society, and those who engage in such behaviour should be under no illusion that they are committing a crime.

"If it is unacceptable outside football then it is unacceptable inside football."

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