“As a person of color, you are sometimes judged differently. We just can’t turn a blind eye to this anymore,” says Rovers owner and president Julian de Guzman.
Wednesday’s game between two of Ontario’s newest women’s League 1 football clubs should have been cause for celebration, but was instead overshadowed by a racist slur against a Simcoe County Rovers football fan from Peterborough.
The Rovers were the visiting team at Fleming College when they faced Electric City in the first meeting between the two organizations that started the league this season.
It was called the Trent Severn Cup as a fun way to start the rivalry, but with the score tied at 1-1 at the end of the second half, the game was stopped by officials due to a racist slur from the crowd towards a Rovers player. .
Rovers general manager and head coach Audra Sherman says she became aware of the incident Wednesday night.
“Somehow it came quickly. We had a player who fell on the field, and then the referee called all the coaches,” Sherman said. BarryToday on Friday. “In your head you think it’s an injury, but it’s not. The referee informed us that one of our players was told a racist insult from the crowd.”
At this point, Sherman said that “everything seemed to be moving so fast, yet so slow at the same time.”
“We tried to manage the players right away and our first concern was to get our players away from the audience, where the insult was coming from, and then how to do it,” she added.
Sherman and Rovers have not disclosed what the insult was or to which player it was said, but the coach said her first thoughts were immediately of the player.
“The most important thing was to check the player who did this to her. We wanted to check on her, make sure she was ok, and no, she wasn’t ok,” Sherman said. “It hit us when we saw her try to act it out and pretend she was fine, but we clearly knew she wasn’t.”
Sherman said that while she praised the officials, Electric City FC and the league for trying to deal with the situation as quickly as possible, the team felt it was best to leave the field.
“We instructed the referee to remove all fans from the area where the insult was coming from before we even thought about continuing the game,” she said. “But over time, we just realized that after that we couldn’t play the game, and we left the field.”
Rovers released a statement about the incident, saying that the women’s team and staff collectively decided to withdraw from the match.
“We are outraged, extremely disappointed and absolutely intolerant of such behavior,” the statement said. “We stand by our players and staff and we stand united against all forms of discriminatory action. We have escalated this issue and hope that all participants will be held accountable for their actions in a timely manner.”
The referee stopped the match in the 81st minute and stopped the game in the 88th minute, with the score 1:1.
Under League1 Ontario rules, the board of directors will meet to review the circumstances and determine whether the score at that time will be the official final score or the canceled match will be rescheduled and replayed.
League1 Ontario also released a statement saying that an investigation has been launched in cooperation with participating teams to identify those responsible.
“We will work to support the affected player by seeking to ensure that all involved are held accountable for their actions,” the league said in a statement.
Rovers owner and president Julian de Guzman says he unfortunately knows the ugly side of the sport all too well.
“I’ve been through this throughout my career, playing all over the world, and to be honest, I’m still going through it,” de Guzman said. BarryToday. “As a person of color, you are sometimes judged differently. We just can’t turn a blind eye to it anymore.
“As horrifying as these moments are, they also allow us to raise awareness of what I and other minorities have to go through on an almost daily basis,” he added.
The Rovers’ next women’s game will take place on Saturday when the third-place team plays second-place Vaughan Azzurri at JC Massie Field in Georgian College starting at 4:00 pm. participation in a demonstration of solidarity on the field at the first whistle.
De Guzman will be at Saturday’s game to be with his players and staff and hopes everyone in attendance will support the team.
“As the leader of this group, leader of color, I want to lead by example and show that we can all evolve from this,” he said. “This is something we can help people learn and, unfortunately, it will be a continuous conversation for the rest of their lives. We just have to educate the masses, especially the youth and the future of the game.”
The men’s team will play after the women’s team at 19:00 when they play Sigma FC. Day tickets available available online or on the field.