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‘It’s not welcome in Highland League football, it’s not welcome in society’ – Huntly manager Allan Hale believes the message is clear after alleged racial abuse of players

Huntly manager Allan Hale.
Huntly manager Allan Hale has welcomed statements of condemnation following alleged racial abuse of his players

Huntly manager Allan Hale has welcomed the response to racial abuse of his players.

Following the Black and Golds’ goalless draw with Keith at Kynoch Park on Saturday, a supporter was issued with a life ban by the Maroons.

Meanwhile, an 84-year-old man has been charged with an alleged hate crime.

Nairn County are also continuing to investigate a similar incident which occurred during Huntly’s 2-1 win at Station Park last Wednesday.

Reflecting on events of the last week, Christie Park boss Hale said: “As you can imagine it’s a very difficult time for them (the players affected).

“For it to happen once is disgusting enough, but for it to happen for a second time in the space of 72 hours is disgraceful.

“The players are putting a brave face on it, but I’m certain they have been impacted as you would expect by two very unsavoury incidents.

“Huntly, Nairn, Keith and the Highland League have put out very strong statements and a very clear message that it’s not welcome in Highland League football, it’s not welcome in society.

“We need to do more to encourage people to not accept any form of discrimination.

“The action taken shows there’s a zero tolerance approach. If it’s heard it needs to be challenged, reported and handled in the correct manner.”

‘We rightly stand against any form of discrimination’

Hale says the message is clear that discrimination will not be accepted and admits he struggles to recall any such incidents during his time as a player and manager in the Breedon Highland League.

He added: “We’ve got a fantastic product and it’s a product that everyone associated with the Highland League past and present is proud of.

“We rightly stand against any form of discrimination. I’ve been involved in the Highland League since I was 16 and I don’t recall any incidents like this occurring.

“But it shows within society we’ve got a long way to go to challenge and make sure that we don’t accept those type of comments being presented, not just at a football ground but anywhere.

“It’s important now with the impact the last week has had that we get the appropriate support to the players in question and also that we do more to educate supporters and wider communities to make sure everyone is treated equally.”

Club wants to make a stand

Huntly face Deveronvale at Christie Park on Wednesday and the Strathbogie side plan to highlight the Show Racism the Red Card message.

Hale said: “We’re trying to get something set up. We’ve reached out to Show Racism the Red Card to get some materials and t-shirts.

“Based on the Highland League’s statement, there will be announcements before and during the game.

“We also want to make a stand as a club not just for this game, but for the rest of the games this season.”

Meanwhile, Highland League secretary Rod Houston said: “This is something the league is going to address in a wider context going forward.

“The whole episode is disappointing because it’s a league that prides itself on  inclusiveness and being respectful to opponents.”

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