Gavin: GAA must get tougher

JIM Gavin has called on the GAA to make racist abuse a 12-month suspension offence and take a zero tolerance stance against spitting and sledging.

Ahead of next week’s Congress in Derry where heavier measures on racism and sledging are being proposed, the Dublin manager objects to such issues remaining on the pitch, an attitude espoused in some quarters earlier this week.

“Put it out there and put strong punitive measures in place for it,” said Gavin. “I know some players have expressed disappointment at the proposed eight-week ban (for racist abuse). I’m at a loss, to be honest.

“The FAI have a six-month ban for racism. I think we should go further and put it out there for 12 months, a mandatory 12-month ban for any form of racism.

“We’ve a lot of people from different cultures and backgrounds as I said. We might attract them into the game without any fear, and that the sporting organisation is going to support them.”

Gavin, a former commandant in the Irish Air Corps, said the GAA need to adopt a hard-line on all abuse matters on the field of play.

A motion tabled by the European County Board and the GAA’s inclusion/integration committee will make “any conduct by deed, word, or gesture of sectarian or racist nature or which is contrary to the principles of inclusion and diversity against a player, official, spectator or anyone else” a disrepute charge.

A Wexford proposal to make racist abuse a red card offence has been ruled out of order as it is encompasses playing rules, which can only be changed by counties every five years.

In the wake of recent spitting incidents, Gavin feels the organisation should be setting the example in Irish sport.

“It (spitting) is completely unacceptable. There should be a zero tolerance policy on everything from that to racial abuse to sledging.

“I just notice that this week is the Europe Against Racism week and what better time of year to put down a marker for trying to encourage people into the Gaelic Athletic Association and that the GAA comes to the forefront of showing zero tolerance to racism.

“What better way to bring people from different cultures and different ethnic backgrounds into Irish life. Let them become Gaels.”

He added: “I know the GAA want to eradicate it but to really do the right job on it you need to have zero tolerance for it (racism). To me that’s a 12-month ban straight away.”

With a couple of players of mixed race in his extended panel, Gavin appreciates Dublin, as a predominantly urban area, are more acute to the issue of racism than some other counties although Wexford have had some incidents with Lee Chin, Keith Rossiter and Armagh with Crossmaglen’s Aaron Cunningham.

“I suppose we are but across all communities on the island there are people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

“We need to address the problem and move on. What better way to encourage people into the GAA than to have a zero tolerance policy. Then they could come in here without any fear and they could become true Gaels then.”


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