Police have been called in after Wellington Phoenix
striker Paul Ifill complained of being the victim of a
''blatantly racist'' slur during his side's loss in Adelaide on
Ifill, an English-born Barbados international, took to
Twitter following the game against Adelaide United to voice
his frustrations over the incident, and the Phoenix yesterday
confirmed it had formally approached Football Federation
Australia to ensure the matter was fully probed.
A spectator at Hindmarsh Stadium was heard to call Ifill a
derogatory racial term after he was substituted in the 61st
minute of the 3-1 loss, AAP reported.
Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome yesterday would
not comment on the nature of the abuse but said the club was
treating the allegations very seriously.
''Our guys reported it to the match commissioner, who took it
up with Adelaide United, and Adelaide's taken it up with the
police over there,'' he said.
''As the investigation unfolds I'm sure it will all come out
and it will be resolved. We're confident the processes are
correct and the right things are in place.''
Dome said the Phoenix had no opinion over what punishment
should be meted out if the allegations are proven true,
preferring instead to leave it in the hands of the FFA and
the South Australian police.
It is thought to be the first incidence of a player being
racially abused by a supporter during an A-League game. FFA
chief David Gallop said yesterday the spectator, if found,
would be banned from attending games.
''That kind of taunt is not on,'' Gallop said.
Gallop believed bans were appropriate sanctions for racist
supporters, rather than seeking to make racist abuse a
''We have seen overseas there can be criminal sanctions with
that kind of thing,'' Gallop said.
''The ban system that is in place for any kind of antisocial
behaviour is one we need to continue to be vigilant about.
''At this stage, the ban system is the way to deal with these
In a statement, Adelaide United said the club was assisting
the FFA in its investigation and it conveyed its concerns to
Ifill. The Phoenix said it had accepted an ''unequivocal
apology'' from Adelaide.
Following the match, Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert said it was
not his place to confirm the nature of the allegations.
''There was a few comments that we have shared with the club
officials ... with regards to a player.''
Ifill, the Phoenix's all time leading scorer, could not be
reached for comment yesterday but he was less cagey on
Twitter, saying he had received racist abuse from a ''very
small minority'' of fans.
Responding to a question from former Phoenix and current
Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata, Ifill tweeted: ''not
happy been a long time since [I've] had to deal with anything
He later wrote it was an isolated incident and the first time
it had happened to him in the A-League, confirming his
complaint pertained to ''a few things that were blatantly
racist that I'd rather not repeat''.