Soccer: Parent asked to stay away from sideline

By Anendra Singh

The Havelock North soccer club have asked a player's parent not to be on the sideline at any matches amid allegations of racist remarks at the weekend.

"We've dealt with the matter after one and a quarter hours of deliberation," Havelock president Dave Lothian said last night after its Holt Cup (knockout) 1-0 victory last Saturday turned sour at Marewa Park, Napier.

A neutral spectator, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, accused fans of the Havelock North Dads and Lads team of racially abusing players from fellow division 2 campaigners Hibernian during the final. Hibernian comprises mainly Fiji Indians, Indians and some Pacific Islanders. Earlier in the season the squad boasted a former Fijian international and some players from Solomon Island and Vanuatu.

When Lothian asked the spectator to point out who allegedly made the comments, the woman singled out the parent of a young player.

Lothian said a couple of members of the club's judicial committee hearing the case on Wednesday night at the clubrooms at Guthrie Park were "very hot and bothered" about the incident.

"The word racist came up so Central Football and [general manager] Phil Holt has been notified," Lothian said.

The complainant on Saturday, he said, wasn't specific about the allegations, which made it difficult to deal with the matter.

"I'm not going to go into the specifics of what the judicial committee have done, but you won't be seeing [the parent] on the sidelines at any of the club's games, to keep the record straight," Lothian said.

He said an irate phone caller had left insults at the office of the soccer clubrooms at the weekend.

"We hire our hall out to childcare so the woman who checked the phone for messages on Monday copped a lot of abuse," he said, adding they had wiped out the message and they apologised to the woman.

Lothian, whose club has rebuilt to seven men's teams and two women's ones, said they had emailed Holt and the Hibernian club president Allan Jack to apologise after the hearing.

Holt, who has donated a trophy to the winners of the knockout cup competition for lower-division supremacy at Hawke's Bay club level, said last night he didn't have time to check his emails because he was involved in a secondary schools' tournament in Napier.

"I'm aware of the case and I'm expecting something from the club," he said.

Holt hadn't received anything else from any other parties but was of the understanding Havelock North were advised to deal with the matter in house.

The villagers' claimed the cup and also won the league this winter although they lost to their Hibs rivals in the first round of the league.

Jake Smith scored the winner in the 23rd minute of the cup clash last Saturday.

The complainant said some of the Indian families had complained racist comments were hurled at their players during the season and she had decided to attend the match to see if that was true. "I came to stand alongside Havelock supporters to listen and the things I heard were quite disgusting," the complainant said.

The Hibs team have at least three Muslims in the squad and some of the comments had been aimed at them.

The players' wives and children at the park didn't deserve that sort of treatment, the spectator said.

After the game, three Havelock supporters interrupted the woman in the car park, demanding to know what she considered to be racist.

When she repeated one of the comments she had heard, one supporter interjected: "Oh, come on, that's not racist, lady. That's PC [politically correct]."

Poised to mark his 50th year at the club next year, Lothian said if it was a racist club he wouldn't be there.

"Racist is a very PC word. During a game statements are made."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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