Two coaches from Carrigaline United spoke out last night against the sanction imposed by the Cork Schoolboys League and said they felt the club was being punished for taking a stand against racism on the pitch. The team needed three points from the game to avoid relegation.
“I know things are said on the field of play, but you have to take a stand,” said Mark McCarthy, the coach who made the decision to protect his player.
Fellow club coach Ted O’Callaghan believes the fine is sending out the wrong message. “We are a multicultural society and our sports clubs and teams reflect that. We feel we are being punished for taking a stand. These are only kids who want to play a game and we think the league is hiding behind the rule book here.”
The incident occurred during a recent U15 Cork Schoolboys League game when one of the Carrigaline players came off at half-time in a distressed state. They were 1-0 down in a game they had to win to avoid relegation.
Mr McCarthy said the player was visibly upset and claimed he had been subjected to a tirade of verbal racist abuse from a player on the opposing team. It was the second time this season the player was subjected to racial abuse on the pitch.
Following consultation with the referee, who apparently did not hear the abuse, Mr McCarthy refused to allow his team back on the pitch, in the hope of securing a rematch.
However, he was called before the Cork Schoolboys League’s disciplinary committee, which imposed a €200 fine on Carrigaline United.
“I had to make a moral decision,” said Mr McCarthy. “I had to decide whether we should continue and try to win the game, or should I protect our player. I chose to back the player, protect him and the club. And we got punished for standing up for that. I made what I think was the moral decision. I think I made the correct decision.”
After the first racist incident, the teenager appeared before the league’s disciplinary committee, but Mr McCarthy said he felt the authorities did not do enough to protect the player.
“He felt it was a waste of his time,” said Mr McCarthy. “He’s been subjected to this kind of thing twice. The second time, I had to make a stand.”
The coaches are unaware if any sanction was imposed on the opposing team.
Eddie Doyle, the honorary secretary of the Cork Schoolboys League, declined to discuss the details of the disciplinary committee hearings. But he said the league does follow the FAI’s code of practice for dealing with racist incidents, which are on the increase.