CWMBRAN Town Football Club is at the centre of a racial abuse allegation which led to a linesman being relieved of his post by the referee.
The alleged remark from the linesman (assistant referee), who was provided by the club, led to a mass brawl during the home MacWhirter Welsh League game with Cardiff Grange Harlequins on Saturday. The linesman strongly denies saying anything racist.
Match referee Robert Mealins claimed at the end of the game, which the visitors won 1-0, that he had heard volunteer linesman John Stenner make a racial remark to Quins player Hamsa Jama, who was born in Wales with family originating in Somalia.
“I cannot reveal to you exactly what was said because it will form part of my confidential report to the Football Association of Wales,” said Cardiff-based Mealins after the game.
However, Mr Stenner, a fan of the club who regularly runs the line because a shortage of match officials, vehemently denies the allegation.
“I told him to go home but I didn’t say anything racist,” he said.
The remark was allegedly made towards the end of the game at Cwmbran Stadium.
Mr Stenner was seen to fall over and later said he had been man-handled to the ground by an unknown visiting team member before being surrounded by a group of Quins players.
Soon they were joined by players from the home team and the ensuing fracas, witnessed by the Argus, saw many punches thrown and several kicks landed.
It took several minutes for Mr Mealins to sort it out as club officials from both camps left their respective dug-out areas to try to help him by pacifying all concerned.
Once back in control, the match official immediately informed Mr Stenner that he was being relieved of his linesman’s role with Cwmbran providing another volunteer to replace him.
Mr Stenner received a minor cut to his left ear-lobe in the brawl, but Mr Mealins decided not to book or send anyone off before going on to add more than 12 minutes of stoppage time.
A statement from Cwmbran chairwoman Carolynn Purcell reads: “The committee of Cwmbran Town Football Club takes any accusation of racial abuse at any of its games very seriously indeed.
“As a club, we will not tolerate any such behaviour and as such will take the appropriate action should anyone be found guilty of racial abuse.
“I have spoken to Cardiff Grange Harlequins chief executive Mohammad Islam, who informed me that his club and its player involved will not be taking the matter any further.
“However, I do fully understand that the match referee will have to report the incident to the football authorities.”
Mr Islam said he saw Mr Stenner stumble but did not see if he was pushed and confirmed the club is letting the referee's report deal with the matter.
Although Mr Stenner is not a committee member of Cwmbran Town, the club remains responsible for all people inside the ground.
In the past the FAW has often flexed its muscles with those found guilty of racist remarks - be it a club or an individual.
Cwmbran has long taken a staunch anti-racism stance and places a “Show Racism the Red Card” banner at its home ground, while part of a match-day programme item on crowd behaviour reads: “We would also like to point out that racial abuse, of any form, will not be tolerated from anyone.”
Show Racism the RED card are supporting all parties invovled and are working with the FAW on the matter.
Source: South Wales Argus