Tuesday 22 January 2019

'They called us ‘British b******s' - Investigation launched after abuse claims at U14 GAA tournament

Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

An investigation has been launched after claims that members of an U14 team were subjected to vulgar abuse at last weekend’s Féile na nGael tournament.

An Ulster club, who competed in the underage hurling competition in Galway, have lodged a complaint alleging that their players were called ‘British b******s’ after the final whistle by members of the opposing team.

The GAA has confirmed to Independent.ie that the matter is being looked into by the Féile committee.

The chairman of the club who lodged the complaint alleges that the abuse occurred after the final whistle.

"Straight after our game, several of the opposing team called our lads ‘British b******s'," he told Independent.ie.

"Go home Brits," he claims they added, "and sure you are not even Irish."

"Most of our lads within earshot hadn't a clue what they were on about. Our lads put it behind them fairly quickly but the coaches and parents discussed it a fair bit."

The chairman said that his players were not fazed by the event, and after the game the captain of the team addressed the opposition in the dressing room purely in Irish. While he stressed that his team had an otherwise enjoyable tournament, he said that incidents like this are becoming commonplace.

"The captain entered the changing room with their coach to say the usual thank you for the game," the chairman said.

"The two lads had decided beforehand to answer their sledging by not speaking a word of English.

"Personally I have experienced this on many occasions and I am sure northern teams have sledged just as bad. My concern is the age of the lads using these words. Some as young as 11 or 12 maybe.

"It is more about the epidemic of sledging and how this is now done at such an age group. How are these children able to shout about things like this? What are the relationships between northern and southern teams like if these insults are par for the course of games nowadays?"

When contacted by Independent.ie, the coach of the opposition team denied that any abuse had taken place.

"It didn’t happen. I was there and it didn’t happen," he said.

"The game was played in good spirits. There were no chants whatsoever. A lot of what was said is untrue.

"If all this has happened, why was nothing mentioned at the time to our mentors or to the officials? Not one of them approached anyone to say that any of this happened.

"We promote fairness and respect at all times in our club and if a child said something, the proper way is for the mentor to say to us, ‘that child said something’ and we would have stopped that."

According to the GAA, the allegations are being looked into.

"This matter has been brought to our attention by one of the clubs involved and is being investigated by the Féile committee, which will engage with both parties. The GAA's anti-sectarian and anti-racist stance is outlined in rule and although instances such as the one alleged are rare, we treat them with the utmost seriousness when they do arise."

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