Racially abused Leicestershire footballer banned for six matches

Linford Harris Wymeswold Cosby racism
Image caption Linford Harris said the man who abused him "had got away with it"

A footballer who reacted to racial abuse during a cup final has called his subsequent six-match ban "a joke".

The match between Cosby United and FC Wymeswold on 3 April had to be abandoned after a brawl, that included some players, broke out in the stands.

While accepting Linford Harris had been abused, a disciplinary panel found him guilty of violent conduct.

Mr Harris told the BBC he was appealing against the decision with the help of anti-racism group Kick It Out.

The Saturday Vase Final was held at Holmes Park in Whetstone, Leicestershire, in front of a crowd of about 200 people.

Image copyright John Hague
Image caption The hearing was told fans at the neutral venue were not segregated

It was halted after 78 minutes because of fighting after FC Wymeswold player Mr Harris was sent off and then confronted spectators.

A disciplinary commission, sitting on behalf of Leicestershire & Rutland FA, said Mr Harris's six-match ban - along with a £90 fine - would have been "considerably higher" without the "significant mitigation" of the abuse.

Mr Harris said: "It's no surprise really. It's typical FA. The other club got fined so the abuser got away with it.

"It's a joke really. It doesn't surprise me at all."

Image copyright Leicestershire FA
Image caption The match was stopped after 78 minutes

The commission charged both clubs with failing to control supporters and players.

It found the abuse came from a supporter linked to Cosby United, but said the club did not show "insight or remorse" and had taken no "remedial action" such as bans or apologies.

Cosby United was fined £100 and given seven penalty points.

The commission concluded FC Wymeswold players were the aggressors whose actions were "completely unacceptable" despite the provocation. The club was fined £125 and given seven penalty points.

Chairman Adrian Keogh said the outcome had left members of the club, which has recently folded, feeling "bitter".

Cosby United's club secretary Gary Reeves said they "totally disagree" with the panel's decision and "feel our reputation's been unfairly tarnished".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paul Pogba was racially abused on social media following a penalty miss

Ivan Liburd, chair of the BAME Football Forum, said: "These experiences are affecting our young players at an alarming rate, and it doesn't help when the club whose spectator was found to have been racially abusive is fined less than the club whose player was the victim of the abuse.

"There must now be greater transparency around the issue of charges at an FA level, particularly racial incidents."

Kick it Out has declined to comment.

The national FA declined to comment and Leicestershire FA said it had no power to discipline spectators other than through the club they follow, and any further action was a matter for police.

Leicestershire Police said an inquiry into crowd trouble at the match was "ongoing".

Racism in football has made international headlines in recent days after Man Utd midfielder Paul Pogba faced racist abuse on social media for missing a penalty.

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