Race arrest fan faces life ban

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Published: Tuesday 17th March 2015 by The News Editor

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A man arrested for alleged racial abuse of Reading’s Garath McCleary in Monday’s night’s FA Cup replay with Bradford faces a lifetime ban from City games, according to chairman Mark Lawn.

McCleary, who made Reading’s opening goal and scored the second in their 3-0 quarter-final replay win at the Madejski Stadium, was targeted when he later took a corner and the winger reported the incident to match officials shortly before half-time.

“I heard about that and when we find out who it was we will take action,” Lawn told Press Association Sport.

“I understand the police are prosecuting so we can’t do anything at this stage, but if that person is found guilty we will take action.

“There is no place for that in the game, it is unacceptable.

“I would think we’re looking at a lifetime ban if he’s found guilty but that decision can only be made after consultation with the club’s board.”

Reading confirmed in a short statement after the game that the incident had been reported to the police, while Reading manager Steve Clarke said McCleary had been “upset by something”.

A brief statement from Thames Valley Police read: ” A 36-year-old man from Bradford was arrested on suspicion of indecent/racial chanting at a designated football match (Football Offences Act 1991) and he has been bailed until 16th April.”

Later in the game a bare-chested Reading fan ran on to the pitch and was led away by match stewards after performing a series of cartwheels.

Supt Jim Weems, who led the policing operation at the Madejski Stadium, said: “Thames Valley Police made a small number of arrests at last night’s football match at the Madejski Stadium in Reading and will investigate all reports of offences thoroughly.

“Overall it was a successful policing operation in partnership with Reading Football Club, with minimal disorder. The vast majority of fans watched the game in a positive and pleasant atmosphere.”

Thames Valley Police refused to comment further on individual cases but confirmed three other men from Bradford had been arrested, plus a 20-year-old man from Wokingham.

Bradford later issued a statement on their official website which read: “The club has been made aware that a supporter situated in the away end at the Madejski Stadium during Monday night’s FA Cup quarter-final replay was arrested for alleged racial abuse towards Reading’s Garath McCleary.

“Bradford City do not condone racism or any other form of discriminatory behaviour whatsoever.

“The club will be making no further comment until gathering the full details from the police.

“In addition, Bradford City remain in dialogue with Kick it Out and the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, who offer support to the club on matters of this nature.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out praised the handling of the situation and hope McCleary’s actions will help other players.

Rishi Jain, Kick It Out’s Football League clubs development officer, said: “We commend the swift action taken by all parties concerned to help identify, arrest and eject a Bradford City supporter from the Madejski Stadium after they allegedly racially abused Reading winger Garath McCleary during yesterday evening’s FA Cup quarter-final replay.

“We must praise Garath for immediately reporting the incident, the match officials for their speedy response in relaying the relevant information to Reading’s stadium security staff, and the subsequent action taken by the club and the police to detain the perpetrator.

“This is a clear example of why the relevant processes are in place for reporting and further proof of, when they are followed from start to finish, how effective they can be.

“We hope Garath’s actions will increase confidence amongst players to register complaints when they are the victim of discrimination during a match.

“Since the incident, we have been in contact with The Football Association, both Reading and Bradford City to offer our assistance on the matter, and have extended our support to Garath via his club.”

Published: Tuesday 17th March 2015 by The News Editor

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