Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Sacked player 'racially victimised'

Officials at Gillingham said they were 'staggered' by a ruling that Mark McCammon was unfairly sacked after being racially victimised

A black footballer was unfairly sacked by Gillingham FC after being racially victimised, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Former Barbados international player Mark McCammon, 33, took legal action against the League Two side after being dismissed for alleged misconduct last year.

The 6ft 2in striker told a hearing in Ashford, Kent, that he and other black players at the club were treated differently from white players. McCammon said he was ordered to come into the ground amid "treacherous", snowy driving conditions while some white players were told they were not required.

He also said the club tried to "frustrate him out" by refusing to pay private medical bills to help him regain his fitness following injury.

Instead, he claims he was offered the same operation on the NHS rather than privately, a move he described as "completely out of character" for a Football League club, and that he was fined two weeks' wages when he paid a visit to a private consultant. In contrast, the former Charlton, Swindon, Millwall and Brighton player said, a white team-mate was flown to Dubai for treatment by an eminent physiotherapist at the club's expense.

In a letter sent to the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) outlining his grievances, McCammon also claimed he was told not to blog while others were permitted to.

Officials at Gillingham said they were "staggered" by the ruling, saying the club had employed thousands of staff of different races and religions.

The club said in a statement: "Today we have received the decision of the Ashford Employment Tribunal which sets out their findings that Mark McCammon was unfairly dismissed and that his dismissal was an act of racial victimisation. We are hugely disappointed, in fact staggered, by this decision. As an organisation we are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate against, nor victimise our staff."

McCammon was "relieved" at the judgment and said he hopes it will lead other players to raise "legitimate complaints" of discrimination.

A statement issued through his solicitor, Sim Owolabi, said: "Mr McCammon is relieved that he has been afforded the opportunity to put forward the truth about the experience he suffered at the hands of his former employers. He is pleased that the employment tribunal has found in his favour and feels that the judgment makes clear that his dismissal was not only unfair but an act of race victimisation."

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