This week’s Football Federation Victoria (FFV) Appeals Board determination paves the way for Sunshine Heights Western Tigers Football Club (SHWTFC) members to return safely to the game, according to senior Slater & Gordon lawyer Ike Nwokolo.
The Sunshine Heights Western Tigers Football Club (SHWTFC) appealed a number of decisions made by the FFV regarding a violent incident that occurred at a match against Tullamarine City FC on June 2.
Mr Nwokolo, who acted on a pro bono basis for the football team members, said the SHWTFC had appealed three of the original decisions by the FFV.
“We were successful in having those original determinations either struck-out, amended or varied,” he said.
“We are certainly pleased with the outcome this week and most of all, we are pleased that there was an acknowledgement in the decision that there was an undercurrent of racism towards the Sunshine players that led to the violent melee.”
Mr Nwokolo said he hoped that the matter would spark a change in the way that racist comments, either from players or spectators, are dealt with by the FFV.
“We are hopeful that as a result of this action we will see a change in attitude towards racial abuse on and off the field,” Mr Nwokolo said.
Mr Nwokolo said the SHWTFC would comply with the orders and penalties as directed by the FFV.
“There is no doubt that what happened had gotten out of control and that both teams have to wear some responsibility. However, we believe that if the original racist remarks had been dealt with by the referee when it was reported to him, the incident would never have happened.”
“Only a zero tolerance towards racism is acceptable. It is no longer okay for referees or other officials to allow racist comments to go unchallenged anymore, whether those comments come from team members or spectators.”
Mr Nwokolo said since the incident senior officials from the FFV had shown a commitment to deal with this issue and had indicated they were prepared to meet with members of the SHWTFC about the matter.