A Fleetwood representative has avoided punishment by the Football Association after allegedly calling Wycombe striker Adebayo Akinfenwa a “fat water buffalo”.
Akinfenwa claimed he felt “angry, frustrated and dehumanised” after hearing the remark during Wycombe’s play-off semi-final against Fleetwood last season.
However, while the FA said that it was satisfied the insult was used towards Akinfenwa, there was not sufficient evidence to charge the Fleetwood employee for a breach of FA Rule E3(2) – making reference to ethnic origin, race and/or nationality.
The FA commissioned a report from an independent expert in race relations which concluded that the words were not objectively racist.
An FA statement read: “Having considered the witness accounts, the expert’s detailed report, and all of the facts and circumstances of this specific incident, the FA is not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge the member of FTFC with a breach of FA Rule E3(2).
“For the avoidance of doubt, the FA is entirely satisfied that the alleged words were used by the member of FTFC.
“However, the FA has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to put before a regulatory commission to prove that the words amount to a breach of FA Rule E3(2).”
But Wycombe were not happy with the outcome of the investigation, saying: “There is no place in sport for such comments.
“The club believe the FA had the opportunity to take appropriate steps to ensure the conduct was punished appropriately and to make sure that everyone knows that this type of comment will not be tolerated in the future. The failure of the FA to act is disappointing.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association also said it was “disappointed” at the verdict, adding: “It is abundantly clear that a white player with a similar stature to Akinfenwa would never be described in the way he was during this incident.”
Fleetwood said they “welcome the findings of the regulatory commission and in particular the independent expert’s conclusion that the employee’s actions were not objectively racist”.
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