Eboni McCann: Gillingham Town footballer baffled by FA misconduct charge for walking off pitch after being racially abused

Eboni McCann, Gillingham Town's midfielder, reported that he was racially assaulted by a spectator in a match against Bridport. Gillingham walked off to support McCann. The game was abandoned and McCann was removed from the pitch. However, the Dorset FA has charged the club for misconduct.
Eboni McCann, Gillingham Town footballer baffled after FA misconduct charges him for leaving the pitch after being racially abuse

Eboni McCann, Gillingham Town's midfielder, says that the Dorset FA sent a 'completely wrong message' when he charged his team with misconduct after he was racially molested by a spectator.

An FA decision to charge his football team with misconduct after he was racially molested as "poor and ridiculous" has been described by a footballer. He insists that it sends "completely the wrong message".

Bridport and Gillingham Town were competing in the Dorset Senior Trophy at St Mary's Field on October 9, when the match was called off after Eboni McCann, a Gillingham midfielder, reported that he had been racially assaulted by a spectator.

Gillingham was charged by the Dorset FA with misconduct for refusing to continue the match and removing themselves from play.

Gillingham could face a maximum 150-dollar fine, but the misconduct charge would still be on the club's records.

Use Chrome browser to access a better video player McCann claimed that he was racially assaulted by a spectator at a match against Bridport in October 9

McCann spoke to Sky Sports News and stated that the referee was giving the player a yellow ticket at the time. McCann then said that he heard the comment and went over to the referee. I went to the man who said it and he replied "yes, I can".

"He was so bold about it, there was no remorse. This really shows the small-mindedness and ingenuity of this individual.

"I went to my manager, and we began walking towards the changing rooms. The club showed solidarity as we all marched off, and the referee entered the changing rooms and stated that he didn't expect anyone else to continue the game. The game was ended at that point.

Image: Gillingham Town's reserve team walked off the pitch following McCann's racially-aggravated remarks. (Photo credit to Gillingham Town FC

"Misconduct charges send out completely the wrong message"

Bridport has since expelled a supporter of life, and Dorset Police have launched an investigation after a 74 year-old man participated in a voluntary interview.

The FA has been notified and will review the case. A panel will decide on any punishments for Gillingham. The panel will review the circumstances surrounding the departure of the team from the pitch.

McCann stated that McCann was initially unable to believe the information he was reading. It's absurd. It seems absurd.

"He's human, we all are human. He displayed compassion and must have thought that someone who has been racially abused shouldn't be allowed to continue playing football.

"I believe the Dorset FA kind of brushed it off and said "okay, we're sending that over to the FA for inspection". They've taken too much time with it, in my opinion. I don't get what they are investigating. What are they trying to find?

"Why is this happening two weeks later and they haven't said anything but 'okay. The only conclusion we can draw from this is that Gillingham might face criminal charges'. It is poor and sends a completely wrong message.

Sky Sports News' Dorset FA deputy chief executive Kevin Pike stated that the FA must forward any aggravated violations, including discrimination, to the Football Association. Any other incidents related to the match would be included.

"The Association took immediate action on this matter, and the case was referred back to the FA the Monday after the weekend in which the incident occurred."

To view a better video player, please use Chrome browser. The Premier League has released a video to emphasize that racism is not acceptable and that supporters can take a leading role in fighting discrimination

"As a manager what else could you have done?"

McCann said he received "huge support" from his social media posts about the abuse, while Peter Down, his manager, was impressed by the way Bridport handled the situation.

Down said that the fans were amazing around the ground. "They applauded our efforts. Everyone on the ground applauded us off.

"Bridport were great. Their management was great. Their secretary, their chairman and the club were great and they were ashamed to have a supporter. They felt sorry for us.

"The players were upset. There was much anger and tension. That game of football was too difficult to continue. As a manager, I don't know what I could have done or should have done.

We assumed the game would be replayed, and Bridport might get a fine for being their fan. But to receive a misconduct accusation was shocking.

"Surely, this cannot happen in our society today?" Is that the right example? It's unbelievable and shocking. This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life."

"More work is required in non-league soccer"

Use Chrome browser to access a better video player McCann believes that racism in football must be addressed at the grassroots and non-league levels.

This comes amid huge national pressure on bodies to do more for racism in football.

Many footballers have been racially abused online and in person. The PFA stated at the start of last year that it would support any player who decides to leave the pitch. The FA reiterated its commitment to helping eliminate all forms of discrimination.

McCann disagrees. He believes that although incidents in the top divisions are being addressed more severely, racism needs to be addressed at grassroots and non-League levels.

It's more common in the top tiers, and it's because it's broadcast on television. McCann stated that families have children and they are watching the game together, so you don't want to hear racist chants.

"I don’t believe enough is being done non-League football. It's especially important for grassroots football because how can you manage that? How do you prevent one of these rotten apples ruining the recreation ground for everyone?

"It's easier to manage higher up." I think it is important to focus on the lower levels.

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FA spokesperson responded to the incident by saying: "The FA stands strongly against all forms of prejudice and we take any allegations of this nature extremely serious.

"All participants who feel they were the victim or witness of discriminatory abuse should report it to the FA, County FA network, or Kick It Out. This will allow us to investigate the incident thoroughly.

"We will continue to take all possible actions against discriminatory behaviours in a football environment and we will continue to do everything within our power to combat these behaviors."

For a better video player, please use Chrome browser. Livingston assistant manager Marvin Bartley is also the Scottish FA’s equality and diversity advisor. He said that the applause from the fans at the beginning of the season when they took a knee was the greatest applause they had ever received.

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