Football: Ifill claims racial abuse as Phoenix lose

Paul Ifill
Paul Ifill
Wellington Phoenix star Paul Ifill says a line was crossed when he was racially abused by spectators during yesterday's A-League loss to Adelaide United in Adelaide.

Ifill says some fans at Hindmarsh Stadium racially abused him in an incident being investigated by Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Adelaide United.

"Bad times poor result and racist abuse from a very small minority of fans #nothappy," the English-born Barbados international posted on social network Twitter.

".... It was a small minority no problem with a bit of banter but a line was crossed today."

Ifill, among the A-League's elite players, was understood to have been repeatedly called a racially derogatory term when substituted during Wellington's 3-1 loss to Adelaide.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert refused to confirm the racial nature of the abuse.

"It's not for me to confirm or not," he told reporters post-match.

But an Adelaide United spokesman said the club was aware of the racial abuse.

"We will investigate matter," the spokesman said.

An FFA spokesman said the governing body "will investigate any incidence of racial vilification".

SA Police and security staff at Hindmarsh Stadium were made aware of the racial abuse, which came as Ifill was substituted in the 61st minute.

After the Barbadian was taken off, Phoenix coach Herbert reacted instinctively by turning around and appearing to look for those abusing his star player.

But Herbert was reluctant to expand on the racial vilification.

"You may want to ask the club (Adelaide)," Herbert said.

"There was a few comments that we have shared with the (Adelaide) club officials ... with regards to a player.

"It would probably be best to talk to the club, Adelaide."

Herbert said it was not his position to confirm or deny the racial element of the abuse directed at the highly-respected Ifill.

The 33-year-Ifill was born in Brighton in England and played 238 games for English club Millwall, including the 2004 FA Cup final against Manchester United.

Ifill also had stints at Sheffield United and Crystal Palace before joining Phoenix.