Belfast Telegraph

Falkirk FC apologise for 'abhorrent behaviour' of fans who threw fake eyeballs at Dean Shiels

Northern Ireland man praised for his professionalism and discipline

By Claire Williamson

Falkirk FC have apologised to a footballer from Northern Ireland after fans subjected him to abuse over his missing eye.

Dean Shiels from Magherafelt who plays for Dunfermline had one eye removed in 2006 after he lost his sight in it during a domestic accident when he was eight.

The former Rangers and Northern Ireland player was subjected to chants from visiting Falkirk fans as his team won 2-0 in the derby clash at East End park on Tuesday.

Some fans also threw fake eyes towards the player on the pitch.

Falkirk FC have since apologised and vowed to work with Dunfermline to identify those responsible.

In a statement on Tuesday night Falkirk FC said: "Falkirk FC apologises unreservedly to Dean Shiels and Dunfermline Athletic FC for the abhorrent behaviour of a small number of individuals at this afternoon’s Ladbrokes Championship match.

"The club wholeheartedly condemns the abuse witnessed towards Dean Shiels in the strongest terms and will be working closely with Dunfermline Athletic FC to identify those responsible.

"Abuse towards anyone with a disability is simply unacceptable and the fact this took place within a sporting context with rivalries at play is no excuse. This needs to stop now.

"Disability Awareness Training is already being delivered to all staff and players at Falkirk FC and we take our commitment to equality seriously.

"We will look to take action against anyone identified from today’s game and will not allow this disgraceful behaviour to be repeated."

Two Falkirk players, Joe McKee and Kevin O'Hara were handed a combined 12 match ban by the Scottish Football Association after being found guilty of taunting the player in the October Challenge Cup game over the loss of his eye.

In Tuesday's game there were five bookings but no red cards.

Dunfermline manager Allan Johnston praised the 32-year-old Northern Ireland man.

He said: "It's great discipline he showed - the whole team showed that.

"You never like to hear things like that, it is poor and that`s why it was important to get the win. He had a lot to deal with, I think the whole club has. We have dealt it professionally and you just have to move on. It is unacceptable in this day and age.

"The most important thing was getting the win, especially against Falkirk. You see the rivalry and hopefully there will be many more to come."

Dean's dad, Kenny Shiels who is manager of Derry City FC, spoke previously of his pride of his son.

In November he told the Daily Record: “I have an immense pride in Dean both as a father and what he has come through.

“He’s had to battle against a lot throughout his career, he has been toughened by it."

Speaking about the abuse from fellow players he said it hurt his son "more than anything".

He said: “He’s had this throughout his career but previously it’s come from the stands.

“To get it from fellow professionals is what hurts him more than anything.

“A line has been crossed in terms of integrity and decency.

“There is a line you don’t cross, not just in football but in sport and this is one of them."

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