A Western Australian football club at the centre of ongoing allegations of racist and sexist behaviour has been fined $1,000 after failing to flush out a supporter who hurled “sexist and misogynistic” abuse at a female umpire.
- South Bunbury Football Club must now pay a fine and hire security guards to ensure umpire safety
- WA’s Sports Minister and senior football officials say the incident is disappointing
- It follows an investigation into claims of racist and sexist behaviour within club ranks
South Bunbury Football Club was also ordered to employ security guards to ensure the safety of umpires for its next home ground fixture.
The club was given a 24-hour time frame to identify the person who hurled the abuse at the boundary umpire in the dying minutes of the game on Saturday evening.
The umpire left the field after the remarks, causing the game to stop, and a formal complaint was made to the South West Football League (SWFL) board on Monday.
League president Barry Tate said it was unlikely the individual, who was seated in the club’s members area, would identify themselves.
“The club have made enquiries as to who the person was and no-one has come forward so that is where it stands,” Mr Tate said.
“At this stage no-one is forthcoming, so it is pretty difficult.”
Mr Tate described the abuse as “sexist and misogynistic” and said the club was sanctioned under WA country football by-laws which state clubs could be held accountable for supporter actions.
The development adds to a tumultuous chapter for South Bunbury Football Club, which is celebrating 125 years as a club, following an external investigation by the WA Football Commission into a string of complaints of sexism and racism.
SWFL general manager Jason Crowe said in a statement it was disappointing to see umpires face abuse.
“Umpiring numbers are critically low and as a result of the weekend, we have potentially lost another one,” Mr Crowe said.
He pointed out the abuse comes just a week after the Commission released a new campaign to stamp out umpire abuse.
Mr Tate said he remained optimistic the club would “rectify” its sullied image.
“This whole scenario has been disappointing,” Mr Tate said.
“We are a pretty proud league in the South West but I know South Bunbury are trying hard at their club to rectify these problems, we just have to work together.”
The ABC contacted South Bunbury Football Club for comment and was directed to a prepared statement.
The statement said the club had accepted the $1,000 fine and an “internal investigation is ongoing to ascertain who the individual is that made these comments”.
“If found, club sanctions will apply affective immediately,” the statement said.
“An apology was given to the umpire concerned on behalf of the club and she was congratulated on an outstanding job.”
Sports Minister says fine appropriate
WA’s Sports Minister David Templeman said abuse towards umpires was at odds with his desire to grow community participation in sport.
“[This is] very disappointing,” he told the ABC while visiting Bunbury on Tuesday.
“If it’s a member, and they’re identifiable, they need to be accountable, it is not appropriate to abuse umpires, male or female,” he said.
Mr Templeman said he supported the WA Football Commission’s move to investigate South Bunbury, and hoped the report would lead to change.
“It is not appropriate to demonstrate poor behaviour. It reflects badly not only on clubs, but on the sport and the code,” he said.
The report has yet to be made public.
However, the ABC understands it ordered the South West Football League to have female representation on its board and introduce an Indigenous welfare officer.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC