In a week when racism returned as an issue to top-flight football, local Junior side Ardeer Thistle has alleged one of its players was racially abused by an opponent.
Fans of Chelsea Football Club are being sought by Police after a video emerged of a black man being pushed off a train at a station on the Paris Metro. The London club were in France to play Paris St Germain in the Uefa Champions League. The English fans were also heard to chant, “We’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”
Now, Ardeer Thistle Secretary Peter McBlain has confirmed that the Stevenston club has reported an incident from last Saturday’s match against Greenock Juniors, in which it is claimed Thistle’s Arnault Bembo (pictured) was abused because he is black.
The versatile defender/midfielder immediately brought the incident to the attention of the referee during the game that Ardeer went on to win 2-1 away from home. The club also formally raised the matter with the official at the end of the match. It is understood the very serious issue will be included in the referee’s report to the Scottish Junior Football Association.
In a club statement, Peter McBlain said, “Ardeer Thistle FC totally condemns the behaviour of the Greenock Juniors No 10 who racially abused Ardeer Thistle player Arnault Bembo during the match on Saturday [February 14].
“This disgraceful incident took place out of earshot of the match officials but was heard by another Ardeer Thistle player.
“Arnault was so upset by the incident that he asked to be substituted by the coach and he stated that never in all his previous appearances with either Ardeer Thistle or previous clubs Threave Rovers and Vale of Clyde had he ever been the subject of any racial abuse. He only wants to play football.”
Confirming the matter had been reported to Junior Football authorities, Mr McBlain said he “hopes they and the player’s club, Greenock Juniors, take appropriate action to punish this individual and ensure he will not get the opportunity to repeat his actions.”
Management, committee members and players of the Stevenston side have given their full support to Arnault, and have indicated they will back “any further action he may wish to take with regards to this incident”.
Peter McBlain noted, “We hope he will put this behind him and continue enjoying his football at the club.
“There is no place on the football field or in society for this type of behaviour.”
So far this season Arnault Bembo has played 17 games for Ardeer Thistle, scoring one goal and winning 2 ‘Man of the Match’ awards.