Friday 23 February 2018

Millwall ban 13-year-old fan from ground after abuse of player

Dominic Farrell

MILLWALL have banned a 13-year-old supporter for abusing Marvin Sordell but denied the Bolton striker was subjected to "systematic abuse by more than one individual".

The incident occurred when Sordell was warming up as a substitute during Millwall's 2-1 Championship win on October 6 - the game that proved to be Owen Coyle's last before he was sacked as Wanderers manager.

Sordell, who represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, took to Twitter after the match to claim himself and team-mates Lee Chung-young, Darren Pratley and Benik Afobe were subjected to racist taunts.

That sparked an investigation led by both clubs and today a statement from Millwall confirmed the boy in question admitted to abusing Sordell and subsequently issued a written apology which the player accepted.

Given his age, Millwall have not imposed a life ban on the youngster and offered him a place on a 'Millwall for All' educational program "in the hope that we can change his outlook on equality, racism and life in general".

The London club have also expressed their displeasure at what they perceived to be sensationalism in initial media reports of the incident.

The statement, released by Millwall in conjunction with Bolton and the FA, read: "We would like to put on record how disappointed everybody at Millwall FC was in the way in which the initial allegations were reported in some sections of the media.

"These reports were made with no knowledge of the facts and created the impression that Bolton players were subjected to racial chanting or systematic abuse by more than one individual. We trust that, now the facts have emerged, certain individuals will reflect on the reports they made.

"It is our hope that all of us within football, including governing bodies, clubs, players, fans and the media can continue to work together to build on the progress that has been made over many years in effectively tackling the issue of racism in our game, rather than merely sensationalising, and thereby trivialising it."

Reports concerning possible racial abuse stemmed from claims made by Sordell on his Twitter account hours after the game.

The 21-year-old stated himself and a number of his fellow substitutes were subject to racist taunts while warming up and accused nearby police officers of failing to step in.

Sordell tweeted: "Putting the match aside, its 2012 in england and people are still shouting racial abuse at a football game!? #Shocking.

"Chungy, Pratts, Benik and i had all sorts of things said to us. The police were standing yards away and did nothing..."

A statement from Bolton said: "Marvin Sordell would like to thank the FA, the PFA and Kick It Out for their support, and Millwall for the way in which they dealt with this.

"Bolton Wanderers will continue to work with, and support, the FA, Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card in their on-going work against all forms of discrimination in football."

An FA statement added: "The FA fully supports Millwall's approach in terms of dealing with the young individual responsible through a ban from the club's matches for the foreseeable future as well as offering him a place on one of its education programmes, run by Millwall for All.

"As the English game's governing body, the FA continues to work closely with our partners to ensure we eradicate all forms of discrimination in football, including the important work Kick It Out undertakes with professional clubs through the Equality Standards."

Press Association

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