There could be serious recriminations for a team of non-league footballers who walked off the pitch mid-game in Thornton Heath last month after the London FA handed down a ruling which cleared AFC Croydon Athletic and their players of all allegations of having abused their opponents racially.
Croydon Athletic say that they feel vindicated by the ruling.
The match, in the South East Counties League Premier Division on December 28, had to be abandoned after an hour when all the players from Fisher quit the pitch at Athletic’s Mayfield Road ground. Athletic were leading 3-1 at the time, and Fisher had already had one player sent off.
With the FA officials having found no credible evidence of racist abuse, the consequences for Fisher could be dire. If the fixture is replayed – as happened with a recent FA Cup tie which was also abandoned over racist abuse – then Athletic would clearly lose the advantages that they had in the original fixture. More likely, Fisher may forfeit the game, and the league points, but may also face further punishments for failing to fulfil the fixture.
Croydon Athletic, which is chaired by former Labour councillor Paul Smith, issued a statement last night: “The club has today been advised that following a thorough investigation by the London FA there will be no charges brought against any player of AFC Croydon Athletic in respect of the allegations made of racist or racially motived abuse.
“The club believes that this vindicates the position they have taken to support the player who was subject to the allegation.
“We extend our thanks to the London Football Association for their work on the matter and the speed with which the matter has been resolved.
“There are issues which the league will now have to resolve in respect of the unfinished game and I am sure that this matter will be resolved in due course.
“We are mindful that there has been a significant amount of comment and speculation in the media about this matter but as a club, we took the view that it was important that this matter should first be resolved by the football authorities. We are pleased that this has now concluded and the player concerned exonerated. We will, however, be making no other comment on this matter which we believe is now in the past.
“It is important, however, to restate that AFC Croydon Athletic abhors and condemns any racist or racially motivated abuse and is fully supportive of the stance taken within football to work to eradicate this from our great game. It must not only be eradicated from football but also from society as a whole.
“We are proud that our club reflects the wonderfully diverse community in which we are located and in the match that gave rise to this issue, and in each of our games since, eight of our starting 11 players have themselves been black, which further reinforces why this issue is both relevant and important to us as a club. Furthermore. we are equally committed to ridding our game of all forms of discrimination.”
Croydon Athletic have a home fixture today, a 3pm kick-off against Greenwich Borough.
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