Racists force Northern Ireland league player's family to stay away from games
The family of a footballer in Northern Ireland no longer comes top watch him in action because of the regularity with which he is met by vile abuse from the sidelines.
The Ballinamallard United manager Whitely Anderson, who revealed that goalkeeper Alvin Rouse’s family no longer feel comfortable attending matches here, has hit out at what he perceives is a half-baked approach to a very real problem.
Though Rouse — who has also turned out for Dungannon Swifts during his six years in Irish League football — has not spoken out about the issue, his boss is disgusted that the 19-times capped former Barbados international feels it necessary to shrug the appalling abuse off.
“He doesn’t feel like complaining will get him anywhere,” says Anderson (right).
“He’s let it go in the past but maybe now that he’s married with kids, he’s realising that it’s not acceptable for him to be treated like that.
“His wife, Elaine, and their children don’t come to watch him play because of the things that are said and shouted about him.
“It might not be whole crowds or anything — it only takes one Neanderthal — but one person is one person too many and the IFA have to deal with it properly instead of just paying lip service.
“Alvin’s been put in a position where he feels like he just has to try and block it out and get on with things — but that’s not good enough.
“It’s 2015, we can’t allow things like this to go unchallenged and not expect them to be dealt with.”
Portadown were fined £1000 earlier in the season when one person in the crowd made derogatory comments about Rouse’s skin colour and the IFA are expected to consider meting out similar punishment to another club over a similar incident recently.
All Danske Bank Premiership clubs are encouraged to play an anti-racism and anti-sectarianism message over their public address systems prior to every match, with spectators advised to report any issues to a dedicated ‘Kick It Out’ phoneline on 0800 169 9414, but Anderson — who says his 33-year-old shot-stopper has also been targeted with monkey chanting at an away ground this season — was disgusted to find that such actions are futile.
He added: “Some of our fans phoned that number to make a complaint but later got an email explaining that they only deal with matches in England, so where’s the sense in that? Why advertise it? It’s lip service, it’s not addressing things properly.
“You can’t just ignore this and hope it will go away because it won’t. The only way to eradicate it is to make sure people are identified and punishments are handed out.
“I know the vast majority of people in Irish League football would be appalled by this — and we’re grateful that Cliftonville stood with us in support of Alvin with out ‘No To Racism’ T-shirts — but we’ve had examples of people not taking these complaints seriously.
“After one match where Alvin was abused, we reported it and were accused of being over-sensitive.”