THE Wellington Phoenix are shocked that one of their star players was allegedly racially abused by a member of the crowd during their 3-1 loss to Adelaide United in Australia at the weekend.
Paul Ifill, a former Barbados international, suffered the abuse at the hands of a lone spectator at Hindmarsh Stadium during the first half of the A-League match, and when he was substituted in the second spell.
Benjamin Totori, who is from the Solomon Islands, was one of a number of Phoenix players who heard the abuse from the bench.
Ifill apparently didn’t hear “two or three” bursts of abuse during the first half, but was made aware of it at the break by a Phoenix official, who also told Adelaide officials.
Security was increased near the Phoenix dug-out, and a guard went to the stands near where the abuser was sitting.
Adelaide has offered an unreserved apology to Ifill and the Phoenix, which has been accepted.
Ifill is thought to be in good spirits, but still struggling to come to terms with events which are being investigated by Football Federation Australia, with the assistance of Adelaide United, Hindmarsh Stadium management, South Australian police and the A-League’s security firm.
FFA boss David Gallop said the abuser would be banned if he could be located.
“That kind of taunt is not on,” Gallop told Fairfax NZ, adding it was unlikely the matter would become a criminal case.
“The ban system that is in place for any kind of anti-social behaviour is one we need to continue to be vigilant about. At this stage, the ban system is the way to deal with these things.”