Leeds & West Yorkshire

Chapeltown junior football coach slams FA racism probe

Chapeltown Juniors Football Club
Image caption Chapeltown Juniors Football Club said it had experienced many incidents of racism

A junior football coach has said the grassroots sport is "rife with racism" amid allegations a 14-year-old player was verbally abused.

Chapeltown coach Lutel James said the teenager was insulted by a boy from a rival team.

The confrontation was reported to the FA, but Mr Lutel criticised its decision to bring charges against both players.

West Riding FA said it had conducted a "thorough" investigation.

Chapeltown rejected the suggestion that its player verbally retaliated to name-calling during last month's match.

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Ashler Bailey, who was coach for the under-14 side on the day, said: "I spoke to the boy after and he was cut up about it.

"The boys just come to play football, they don't come to deal with abuse."

Image caption Lutel James said the FA's decision to bring charges against both players was unfair

Figures from anti-racism group Kick It Out said reports from grassroots clubs across the country had risen from 48 to 82 in the last year.

Mr James, who has been involved in youth football in Leeds for 20 years, it was "absolutely rife with racism" and his players had experienced abuse many times.

He said the FA's approach put players off coming forward.

"They just know it's going to be the same old cycle - you say something and you're charged as well," he said.

"If you keep...charging everybody as soon as you mention anything, then it stops you dealing with the underlying issue."

West Riding FA confirmed that Chapeltown Juniors Football Club had reported an allegation of racism.

In a statement it said: "We then initiated an investigation which involved a thorough process of obtaining statements from the alleged victim, perpetrator and witnesses to establish the facts of the case.

"Subsequently, charges have been issued to all participants. Once responses are received, an independent disciplinary commission will review the evidence.

"We are committed to tackling all such allegations and encourage any discrimination experienced or witnessed to be reported."

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