The Wellington based New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils has called on Football New Zealand to develop a ‘Kick Racism Out’ campaign.
Federation President Tayo Agunlejika applauded the Seatoun Association Football Club (SAFC) for launching its own ‘Kick Racism Out’ campaign but said that it was not just a matter for one club to protest against racial discrimination and abuse.
“The whole region and the National Federation should support,” he said.
His comments came in the wake of a complaint lodged by SAFC to ‘Capital Football’ (a local Federation) stating that its players had been racially abused consistently for the past several years and the proximate provocation occurred at a match held against Lower Hutt on June 30, 2013.
SAFC demanded a full investigation and reportedly filed a complaint at the office of the Human Rights Commission.
Mr Agunlejika said that his Federation had written to the Chief Executives of Capital Football and New Zealand Football stating that such behaviour, whether by other players or spectators, was unacceptable and must be stopped.
“There are increasing numbers of players and teams of ethnic origin participating in the football league at the highest level, and it is vital that the regional and national bodies are proactive in addressing issues of racial abuse and harassment, as is the case at the international level,” he said.
But the Lower Hutt City AFC dismissed the claims, describing them as rubbish.
An APNZ Report quoted President Jim Baxter as saying that his Club had already investigated the allegations and found them to be untrue.
“It was the opinion of the persons involved that it was a storm in a teacup and that there was no basis to the complaint. There is no room for that type of culture in my Club. Lower Hutt actively promotes ethnic engagement, Mr Baxter said, fielding a team of Fijian Indians in club colours and having brought up many underprivileged African lads,” the Report said.
“Mr Baxter said, it is ridiculous to suggest that we are racist,” the Report added.
The APNZ Report said that Capital Football Chief Executive Richard Reid confirmed having received a complaint and that it was being reviewed.
“I do not know what happened yet, but we will get to the bottom of it,” Mr Reid said.
He said that more than 900 matches are played in the Wellington area every weekend and that he had not received such allegations during the 18 months since he became the Chief Executive.
“World governing body FIFA has been ‘extra rigorous’ in trying to stamp out racism from the game and Capital Football will do the same,” Mr Reid said.
“But people should not be surprised that racism occasionally emerges on the sporting field. It is unfortunately a fact of life. It does not make it right, and it doesn’t mean a body like us shouldn’t try and stamp on it immediately.”
Photo: Tayo Agunlejika