Fans urged to help trace race abuse sup­porter

Ma­gen­nis lodges of­fi­cial com­plaint

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW LIND­SAY CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER

HEARTS fans were last night urged to help po­lice iden­tify the sup­porter who Kil­marnock striker Josh Ma­gen­nis has al­leged racially abused him at Tynecas­tle on Satur­day.

Ma­gen­nis, the North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tion­al­ist, took the un­usual step of mak­ing an of­fi­cial com­plaint to Po­lice Scot­land af­ter the Lad­brokes Premier­ship game at the week­end.

It is be­lieved the 25yearold was tar­geted by an in­di­vid­ual who was seated among the Hearts sup­port in the Wheat­field Stand dur­ing a match which the home team won 10.

Hearts is­sued an of­fi­cial state­ment im­me­di­ately af­ter the match re­veal­ing the com­ment made re­lated to the player’s na­tion­al­ity and vowed to as­sist with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

David Scott of the anti-sec­tar­ian char­ity Nil By Mouth ap­plauded the de­ci­sion by Ma­gen­nis to take ac­tion and ap­pealed to Hearts fans to as­sist po­lice with their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“I am 100 per cent be­hind the player,” said Scott. “Ev­ery­one has the right to go to their work place with­out be­ing abused for ei­ther their race, re­li­gion or back­ground. I am sure the in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­ble ex­pects that when they go in to their work. The foot­ball field is a player’s work­place and they should be treated ex­actly the same as ev­ery­body else.

“I am de­lighted that Hearts have put out a state­ment dis­tanc­ing them­selves from the mo­ron in­volved and hope­fully sup­port­ers will work with club of­fi­cials to iden­tify the in­di­vid­ual re­spon­si­ble.

“Some­body who was at the game knows who it is. This is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. This sort of con­duct be­longs to the dark ages not in the 21st cen­tury.”

Scott added: “I hope that sup­port­ers re­spond to this in­ci­dent in the right man­ner, I hope Po­lice Scot­land take ac­tion and I hope PFA Scot­land also come out and of­fer their back­ing for the player. Sup­port­ers can boo play­ers who have had a bad game and can reg­is­ter their dis­ap­proval at how a team has per­formed. But gen­eral lev­els of de­cency must be ob­served. You can’t just say: ‘Well, I’ve paid my money I can say what­ever I want’.

“He (Ma­gen­nis) strikes me as an in­tel­li­gent and lev­el­headed fel­low who wouldn’t take this sort of de­ci­sion with­out good rea­son.”

Ann Budge, the Hearts owner, an­nounced last month that ad­di­tional fi­nances would be in­vested in sur­veil­lance of sup­port­ers fol­low­ing in­ci­dents of fight­ing and ver­bal abuse both in­side and out­side Tynecas­tle.

The Ed­in­burgh club has been or­dered to have a po­lice pres­ence at ev­ery match at an ex­tra cost of £50,000 as a re­sult of crowd trou­ble.

They are also the sub­ject of an SPFL in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter the match del­e­gate at their 32 win over Dundee United re­ported “ex­ces­sive ver­bal abuse” of vis­it­ing man­ager Mixu Paate­lainen.

Hearts sup­port­ers were also in­volved in fights with Mother­well fans dur­ing and af­ter their 60 league win last month.

Budge, who apol­o­gised to Ross County af­ter a sup­port­ers’ bus was at­tacked back in Oc­to­ber, has in­tro­duced ad­di­tional stew­ard­ing and cam­eras in cer­tain sec­tions of Tynecas­tle as a re­sult of the trou­ble.

She has said: “Al­low­ing a tiny mi­nor­ity of sup­port­ers to bring the club’s rep­u­ta­tion into dis­re­pute is some­thing we will not tol­er­ate.

“We will be clamp­ing down on sup­port­ers who be­have un­ac­cept­ably. This will mean more strin­gent checks and more sur­veil­lance both in­side and out­side the sta­dium.”

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