Racial abuse aimed at members of a Peterborough football club, including some in an under seven side, has prompted Peterborough City Council’s chief executive to take action.
Gillian Beasley has agreed to speak with the Huntingdonshire and Northants FAs after the council decided to take a stand over the abuse aimed at FC Peterborough.
The council unanimously agreed a motion on Wednesday night (January 24) to offer “whatever assistance it can” to FC Peterborough and for Mrs Beasley to arrange a round table meeting with all relevant stakeholders to promote sports in the city and to discuss how they can send a “clear message that racism will not be tolerated in any shape or form.”
The motion also wants the council to request regular updates on what progress has been made regarding FC Peterborough’s complaints and how the stakeholders intend to address the issues highlighted in the future.
Last November the Peterborough Telegraph revealed a list of complaints by the Peterborough League and Peterborough and District Junior Alliance club.
Those claims included:
. An under 11 match when opposition players mimicked planes being crashed into buildings in an apparent reference to the 9/11 bombings.
. An under 10 match when an FC Peterborough junior player was punched by an opposition team player which led to a red card. The referee, the FC Peterborough players and parents were then abused by parents from the opposition club. This included racist abuse.
. One FC Peterborough junior side being described as ‘a pack of dogs’.
Adult players were also said to have suffered racist comments.
Introducing the motion, Labour councillor Shaz Nawaz said: “I’m very proud to call myself a Peterborian and very honoured to bring up two young children as Peterborians.
“My two young children play football for FC Peterborough. The club has players from 20 backgrounds playing for it.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people playing football together, but sadly football has a not so wonderful side to it.
“A number of FC Peterborough players have been subjected to numerous incidents of verbal and physical abuse.
“When such behaviour takes place it simply is not acceptable and we must do whatever we can as councillors to challenge such behaviour.
“I know over the last 40 to 50 years much work has been done in Peterborough to promote wider community cohesion. We can’t allow those efforts to go to waste,
“I believe as a council and a city we must a clear message to these bullies that we will not allow them to challenge our values.”
Cabinet member for communities Irene Walsh responded by saying: “This is clearly an unacceptable situation,” before paying tribute to Mrs Beasley for leading on the work.
Conservative councillor Marco Cereste, who is chairman of Peterborough’s Italian Community Association, said: “I was delighted to hear my fellow councillor say there are other football clubs that have had similar problems and mention this particular city is such a wonderful place to live in.”
However, he said the motion was let down by a failure to include other teams other than just FC Peterborough.
Fellow Tory Cllr Andy Coles said: “Intolerance in any form is unacceptable,” before suggesting anti-racism groups Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card be part of the collaboration.
Independent member Cllr Julia Davidson said she would like to see the anti-discrimination work rolled out to include women, colour and sexual orientation.
Labour councillor Ansar Ali said: “I welcome this motion. This city has a proud record of diversity.”
UKIP’s Cllr John Whitby said: “Nobody should be abused because of what they are,” before Conservative councillor June Bull added: “We have a huge, proud and historic record of welcoming people.”
Cllr Bella Saltmarsh read out a message from her fellow Liberal Party member Cllr Keith Sharp who is vice chair of the Northants FA, but was not at the meeting. He said the abuse claims would be dealt with by disciplinary committees, adding: “The association do take the issue of racial abuse and of abuse very seriously.”
Labour’s Cllr Richard Ferris concluded: “The fact is a lot of people that make complaints still feel let down. They do not report the problems because they have little confidence they will be taken seriously.
“The sad truth is, despite high profile cases, casual racism never goes away.
“We have an opportunity to set an example to take urgent action.”