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Capital Football concerned at racial vilification

Capital Football has warned it will encourage victims of racial vilification to take their matters further to the ACT Human Rights Commission, concerned by frequent use of the phrase "black c---" at Canberra soccer matches.

Capital Football competitions manager Chris Doyle revealed there had been six reported cases of racial vilification using the offensive phrase this season, ranging from Under 16s to Canberra's top competition, the ACT men's Premier League.

In an attempt to stamp out racism, Capital Football has sent an email to all clubs across all competitions warning it will not be tolerated and victims will be encouraged to explore their legal rights beyond soccer's own code of conduct.

Capital Football has also advised match officials to be more vigilant of any racial abuse and told them to take immediate action against players by sending them off, but Doyle admitted the code's current regulations relating to dispute and discipline were restrictive.

As rules stand, a first offence carries a $100 fine, although Doyle credited some clubs for taking internal action against offending individuals. Doyle said racial vilification could also be "delicate cases" and hard to prove, often involving one person's word against another.

Doyle said he would seek club support to strengthen penalties for racial abuse when the code of conduct was reviewed at the end of the season, but he had also sought advice from the ACT Human Rights Commission.

"I am becoming increasingly disturbed by the amount of racial vilification matters that come across my desk where the allegation is use of the phrase 'Black C','' Doyle wrote in the email to clubs.

"This has to stop, can anyone please explain to me how using this particular phrase in today’s society is at all acceptable?

"Please note from now on along with Capital Football's own investigation, any player, coach, spectator, who is the subject of such terminology will be recommended to also lodge a complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission."

Doyle, who was appointed to Capital Football in February, said abuse was an issue for all sports.

Previously in a role with Cricket ACT, Doyle said he'd attempted to increase penalties for offensive language on the pitch and use of politically incorrect terms such as "retard" and "spastic".

"Interestingly all clubs voted against that and said it was just part and parcel of competitive sport and it was up to people to deal with it if they get labelled that, which I completely disagreed with," Doyle said.

The matter emerged as the sporting spotlight was on soccer, with the World Cup kicking off in Brazil on Friday morning.

Doyle said many of the reports of racial abuse this season had been dealt with by breach notices and fines, with some clubs also imposing their own internal penalties.

Doyle said alleged victims of the abuse were always consulted during the process, but could now be encouraged to also take the matter to the ACT Human Rights Commission.

"If the complainant is satisfied with the action taken then the matter can be closed off and that's happened in a few cases as well, where the clubs have taken very strong action against that kind of behaviour within their club networks," Doyle said.

"That language has got no place in society let alone on a football field. In this day and age I don't know the best way to get the message through.

"It's probably something that gets said without thinking about the consequences of saying it, but what it doesn't do is take into account the impact that statement has on the person it's directed at. There's no appreciation that particular phrase is hurtful, demeaning, denigrating.

"I'm not naive enough to think I won't get another one this season ...  we've got six matters in nine rounds, that's ridiculous. The expectation is with the remaining rounds and finals I'd like to see a decrease."

The email from Capital Football

Dear All,
I am becoming increasingly disturbed by the amount of racial vilification matters that come across my desk where the allegation is use of the phrase Black C.
This has to stop, can anyone please explain to me how using this particular phrase in today’s society is at all acceptable?
The ACT Human Rights Commission can handle complaints under the ACT Discrimination Act 1991 (the act) which aims to ensure that everyone in the community can enjoy fair treatment and equality of opportunity.
The act provides that it is unlawful to vilify a person or group of people because of their race. Vilification means to publicly incite hatred, serious contempt or ridicule towards a person or group of people because of their race.
Section 66 Unlawful vilification – race, sexuality etc.
(1) It is unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of people on the ground of any of the following characteristics of the person or members of the group:
(a) race;
(b) sexuality;
(c) gender identity;
(d) HIV/AIDS status.
Please note from now on, along with Capital Footballs own investigation, any player, coach, spectator, who is the subject of such terminology will be recommended to also lodge a complaint with the ACT Human Rights Commission.
As you can see I have copied the referees manager into this correspondence. I have asked referees to become more vigilant in listening out for this and to take immediate action if they hear it; i.e. Red Card.

Regards,

Chris Doyle

Competitions Manager

Capital Football

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