South Bunbury Football Club face fine after fan allegedly targets referee with sexist slurs

A struggling Western Australian soccer club has been ordered to pay or identify a man who made a sexist comment to a female referee, just months after its entire women’s squad quit over allegations sexist and racist behavior.

A spectator seated in the members area of ​​South Bunbury Football Club allegedly hurled sexist slurs at a female referee during a men’s game against Donnybrook Football Club on Sunday.

The referee left the pitch after the remarks, causing play to be stopped.

The South West Umpires Association then filed a formal complaint with the league, which called on the man to come forward and apologize in person.

It is alleged that the man’s comment was followed by laughter from other supporters.

The league agrees the man should come forward and apologize.(ABC Southwest: Anthony Pancia)

South West Football League chairman Barry Tate said the behavior was unacceptable.

“It’s absolutely shocking to this individual,” he said.

“She just didn’t want to be there. This is the first time we’ve had this.

“She’s a lovely girl, she’s been refereeing for quite a while and no referee needs to put up with that of any kind.”

Mr Tate said the South Bunbury club chairman met the referee after the game and apologized.

Assume or face a fine

South Bunbury was given a deadline of Wednesday evening to identify the person who made the remarks or face a maximum penalty of $1,000.

The club have also been asked to provide safety for the referees in the upcoming home game.

A group of women stand together on a soccer field
The women’s team quit after being disciplined by their club for warming up in sponsorless black shirts to “stand up to racism”.(ABC Southwest: Sam Bold)

Mr Tate said the penalties acted as a message to all clubs to ensure referees were respected.

“This type of behavior will not be tolerated,” he said.

“We are struggling to find referees and that is not helping the cause.

“There is no game without referees, so you have to start standing up and acknowledging that these people are part of what we do.”

“Control Your Club”

The incident follows a tumultuous period for the club, which was recently investigated by the WA Football Commission after complaints of sexism and racism.

It was sparked by an on-pitch racial vilification incident in May when a player from South Bunbury Football Club‘s men’s team uttered a racial slur towards a Noongar man from a rival team.

South Bunbury women’s coach Maxwell Jetta, who is a Noongar man and cousin of former AFL players Lewis and Neville Jetta, resigned after the incident, saying he was disappointed with the way his club handled it managed.

Several other incidents led to the abandonment of the entire women’s team.

The report and recommendations that followed the inquiry have yet to be fully made public, but included a recommendation to strengthen female and Indigenous leadership at the club and league level.

Mr Tate said it was time the leaders of South Bunbury did something about the culture of the club.

“It’s really disappointing on our side that this continues to happen,” he said.

“We need South Bunbury to take control of their club and make sure they have a good culture.”

He said the incidents were a distraction from an exciting competition.

“We have three rounds before our final and we have four teams who could possibly win the grand final, which is fantastic,” he said.

“But that just puts a damper on what we’re trying to achieve.

“We want excitement and not condone that kind of behavior.”

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