An international anti-racism charity has called on the GAA to ensure the investigation into a club player’s claims he was verbally assaulted are dealt with strongly.
The charity, Show Racism the Red Card, welcomed the Ulster Council investigation into claims that mixed race Crossmaglen player Aaron Cunningham was subjected to racism during Sunday’s Club final.
Mr Cunningham said Sunday was the first time he suffered racist abuse in his six years of football at a senior level. He said: “To be subjected to that kind of abuse is disgusting.”
Co-ordinator for Show Racism the Red Card, Garrett Mullan said: “There can be no place for racism in the GAA and no place for racism in Irish society. It is now clearly an issue for the GAA and a programme including rule changes and education is now needed.
“Inter-county and top club players such as Eddie Lawlor, Lee Chin and Aaron Cunningham are role models for young people in how to respond to racism. We would call on all units of the GAA to support moves to make racial abuse a red card offence. It is up to all involved in the game including supporters, players and administrators to recognise what is racism and how to respond to it.”
The charity said the association currently has no specific guidance on the appropriate sporting punishment for racist offences.
In June two Wexford club players were suspended for two months each for alleged racist remarks made to inter-county star Lee Chin. The alleged remarks were raised in the referee’s report and were subsequently acted upon. Chin later testified that he had brought the matter to the attention of the referee after he himself had been yellow-carded.
Gaelic Players Association CEO Dessie Farrell said: “We know that there can be no tolerance for racism within our games but there is an onus on everyone involved to be active in preventing abuse through education.
“Through our long association with Show Racism the Red Card we are part of that process with players acting as ambassadors and role models for education campaigns such as the GAA’s ‘Give Respect get Respect Initiative’.
“We welcome the action of the Ulster Council who, like their counterparts in Wexford earlier this year, has moved quickly to deal with this serious matter.”