• Club gets ‘slap on the wrist’ after fans yell racial abuse at Indigenous players FOR ENTIRE GAME. (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
Indigenous footballers recently subjected to sustained racial taunts from fans of an opposing team say they are “disgusted” by the SA league’s response, after a tribunal decision fails to adequately address the issue.
Douglas Smith

26 Aug 2020 - 12:28 AM  UPDATED 8 Sep 2020 - 4:55 PM

A football club in Adelaide has been given a warning after it “failed to take appropriate action” to remove supporters of its club who yelled racial abuse at Indigenous players on an opposing side for an entire game.

At a tribunal hearing on Monday night, the Southern Football League (SFL) gave Flagstaff Hill FC (FHFC) a “formal reprimand”, after the club failed to stop its supporters from yelling racial abuse at Indigenous players from Port Noarlunga FC (PNFC).

After a game between the two teams earlier this month, Indigenous players from Port Noarlunga FC put in a formal complaint to the league after being called "black c**ts and stinky” for the entire game by a group of “10 or more” Flagstaff Hill supporters. 

Speaking to NITV News on Tuesday, Indigenous player, Connor Sampson said he and his teammates left the tribunal feeling “angry” and “speechless” by the league’s decision.  

“This has left us brothers feeling sick to the stomach and stuck with this anger for the rest of our lives because it took guts for us to come out and point this out,” said Mr Sampson.  

“We were there for about three and a half hours and they spoke to us individually about what we heard and what happened during the game and how we felt when those words were said to us.

“Once that finished, we went outside and sat around for about two and a half hours and then they called us all back in and said all that was gonna happen was that there was just gonna be a warning for what they did to us.”

The incident was first brought to light when proud Wirangu and Kokatha man, Ian Milera, posted to social media saying it was "one of the worst days" he had experienced in his football career.

Following the Southern Football League's decision on Monday night, Mr Milera called on his community to hold the League responsible for the outcome. 

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Further action required

Indigenous teammate, Elijah Satala, who initially sent the Southern Football League a formal complaint when the incident occurred, has criticised the league as a "culturally unsafe place" and told NITV News that he was looking to take the matter further. 

"It (Southern Football League) is not safe whatsoever, it is absolutely not safe," said Mr Satala. 

"Flagstaff Hill Football Club failed to ensure the safety of our Indigenous players from the first quarter to the last. 

"The league took no appropriate action for Flagstaff Hill to face consequences for those actions."

Mr Satala said he was now looking at "other options" to seek support for him and his teammates.  

"We went down the right process of lodging a formal complaint and when I questioned the outcome, the Chairman of the panel said, 'that's the end result, that's the final decision being made'."

Mr Satala said he asked about an appeal process and was told by the committee that it was not an option. 

"I asked about an appeal process and they said, 'there's no appeal process'. 

"I have had the advice to seek support from the Equal Opportunity Commission here in South Australia."

Southern Football League respond 

On Tuesday, the Southern Football League released a statement following their investigation committee's decision on the incident between supporters of Flagstaff Hill FC and Indigenous players from Port Noarlunga FC. 

The investigation committee said that it found Port Noarlunga players were "subjected to racial abuse", but couldn't identify those responsible for hurling the abuse. 

"At the conclusion of the hearing, it found that Indigenous players of the Port Noarlunga FC were subjected to racial abuse by several people whose identities could not be confirmed by either the Port Noarlunga FC or the FHFC during an A-Grade match played between the clubs at Flagstaff Hill on 1st August 2020," read the statement. 

"The committee was satisfied that no official or player of the FHFC was involved in this abusive behaviour.

"However, it was the committee’s view that the FSFC failed to take appropriate action to identify and remove the perpetrators from the event.

"As a consequence, the committee took the view that a formal reprimand was an appropriate sanction to be imposed on this occasion.

NITV News has contacted Flagstaff Hill Football Club for comment. 

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